ND senators satisfied with their security
North Dakota’s U.S. senators say they don’t plan to make use of any of the $2.5 million in residential security money included in the omnibus spending bill approved last December to fund the government in 2023.
The funds are designated for the Senate Sergeant at Arms to develop and administer a voluntary program to identify security issues at senators’ residences, both in their home states and Washington, D.C.
The security funds are to be used only to conduct an assessment of the need for home security upgrades and will not pay for those upgrades. Security measures have been determined by the Federal Election Commission to be a legitimate election expense for which congressional members can use personal or campaign funds.
The office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, issued a statement saying the senator opposed the omnibus bill because he believed it included too much spending. Regarding the residential security program, Hoeven said he has no plans to utilize the funding made available in the bill.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, said $2.5 million would not be an unreasonable estimate of the cost in Washington for assessments on the homes of all 100 senators. However, he feels no need for the assessment himself. A former House member, Cramer chose to have Capitol Police provide a security assessment after moving to the higher profile Senate office four years ago.
“They made recommendations on where cameras should be, what type of alarm systems are recommended,” Cramer said. “So we did that.”
He added he never has felt his personal safety was in danger in Washington, D.C., or at his Bismarck residence, but he also feels the need to look out for his family by putting security measures in place. Also, a good relationship exists with his local law enforcement officers in North Dakota, said Cramer, who had the Burleigh County sheriff as his State of the Union guest.
“They look out for us in a very non-intrusive way, and we’re grateful for them. But, again, that’s a blessing we have in North Dakota that maybe others don’t have where they come from,” he said
Although he doesn’t feel personally threatened, Cramer acknowledged incidents such as the ax-wielding vandal who attacked Hoeven’s Fargo office in December 2020 and the fiery town hall in Mandan in 2017 at which he was verbally accosted by an individual who tried to stuff a wad of cash into his shirt before being escorted away by police. He said hostile voicemails and emails also occur occasionally.
The attack on the husband of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., last October and the Jan. 6, 2021, incident at the Capitol have raised security concerns, and Cramer said that may have led to the decision to fund home security assessments for senators.
“People have gotten more aggressive in our politics,” he said, “and they just felt like maybe we should step up our awareness a little bit.”