Congress Voting on More Security Funds for Convention Cities

(Bloomberg) -- Chicago and Milwaukee, the host cities for this summer’s Democratic and Republican conventions, are expected to receive a combined $150 million in federal dollars to spend on security for the events.

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The funding would amount to a total of $75 million per city, up from $50 million. It comes as part of a spending bill headed to the House floor Wednesday to stave off a government shutdown. The Senate is expected to pass the bill by a Friday shutdown deadline and the White House has said President Joe Biden will sign it.

“I encourage Congress to finalize that safety money,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a speech on Monday.

READ: Chicago, Milwaukee Seek Extra Funds to Cover Convention Security

Cities typically front the security costs for political conventions and are later reimbursed by Washington. That expense is separate from the more than $70 million host committees for both parties look to raise from private donors to put on the conventions.

City budgets are already strained. And while inflation and crime have eased somewhat, both remain at elevated levels. The Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol also has fueled concern about political unrest.

Host cities first started receiving security funding in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The amount has stayed the same for two decades.

Bipartisan congressional delegations from Wisconsin and Illinois have pushed for months to increase the amount to account for higher inflation and elevated security concerns.

“I didn’t know what could happen if the cities would have to bear the brunt,” said Representative Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat and House Appropriations committee member who has pushed for the increase.

Chicago has had its ups and downs with hosting past Democratic conventions. Images of police officers and protesters facing off during the 1968 convention still linger in the national consciousness, even after the city successfully hosted the 1996 gathering.

“Right now, everything is indicating that we are well positioned, both the city of Chicago and Milwaukee, to have those resources so that we can keep the convention secure, safe,” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said on Wednesday during a press conference about convention public safety when asked about federal funding. “Our number one priority is the safety of all of our residents and all of our visitors.”

--With assistance from Erik Wasson.

(Updates with comment from Chicago mayor in last paragraph.)

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