Members of Congress make bipartisan push to get Milwaukee more RNC security funding

Members of Congress make bipartisan push to get Milwaukee more RNC security funding

By: A.J. Bayatpour - CBS 58

MILWAUKEE-- Wisconsin's eight U.S. House representatives hope to secure an additional $25 million for Milwaukee ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, which the city will host next summer.

The state's full congressional delegation signed a letter to the leaders of a House subcommittee on appropriations. The letter, dated March 31, noted host cities for the Democratic and Republican national conventions have received $50 million in federal funding for security dating back to 2004.

The House members said $50 million was no longer enough, citing inflation, and asked the subcommittee leaders to approve $75 million in support for both Milwaukee and the city that hosts the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

"As you know, costs across the board have risen steeply in recent years," the letter read. "And security costs are no different."

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) of Milwaukee said the idea of increased security support dated back to 2018 conversations with former Mayor Tom Barrett. At the time, the city was planning to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which ended up being a mostly virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"[Fifty-million dollars] really didn't meet the needs to 2020, much less 2024," Moore said. "When we think about inflation and the costs of goods and services."

Moore said the additional funding would help cover increased police staffing hours, additional security devices like metal detectors and X-ray machines as well as communication equipment upgrades for law enforcement. 

Moore added it was essential to improve police telecommunications equipment because numerous agencies could be involved in securing the convention.

"Say, if you were to bring in the North Shore police departments, or Racine, or Kenosha, or other law enforcement," she said.

Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) from Janesville said he worked with Moore on drafting the letter. He added the size of the gathering -- with an estimated 45,000 visitors -- and potential for large demonstrations necessitated the need for more federal aid.

"I think it's an appropriate move to make sure that we're moving along," Steil said. "Both with inflation and with the risk profile that a national convention has in the modern era."

A city spokesperson said Mayor Cavalier Johnson was unavailable for comment Monday, but added in a statement Milwaukee officials were grateful to see bipartisan support for the city's RNC security efforts.

“Clearly, everyone involved wants the 2024 Republican National Convention to take place safely," Spokesperson Jeff Fleming said.

Both Moore and Steil said they expect protests and counterprotests to take place outside the convention, which is scheduled for July 15-18 next summer.

Moore said she believed the federal government funding could pay for dedicated stages and microphones protesters could use in designated areas.

She added another layer of security would be required if the convention gets contentious, with former President Donald Trump declaring his candidacy along with other possible GOP candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.

"The former president will most likely be in town," Moore said. "And we certainly hope for his protection, and the protection of everybody who convenes in Milwaukee."

Steil said he wasn't aware of any security concerns specific to Trump's possible presence.

"I think, just in general, when you have a large, national convention, it's important to make sure we have the resources to make sure we're keeping the convention goers and everyone in the city safe," Steil said.

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