Blanton detailed how intense the experience was for the people working at the Capitol building that day: “employees sheltered congressional staff in their shops to protect them from the roving mob. Other members of our team raced to the roof to reverse the airflows within the building to help clear the air of chemical irritants, like bear repellents and pepper spray, while more team members rushed bottles of water and eyewash stations to Capitol Police officers in need of assistance.”
It is this experience over hours that has necessitated an increased demand for mental health counseling. The House’s Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor told the committee that “While the physical scarring and damage to our magnificent Capitol building can be detected and repaired, the emotional aspects of the events of Jan. 6 are more difficult to notice and treat.” She told the committee she expected to see at least a 65% increase from 2020 in the need for mental health services, which was already up considerably from “more typical years.” The New York Times reports that the demand for mental health counseling has increased. The office that “typically handles about 3,000 calls per year surging to more than 1,150 interactions with employees, managers and members of Congress in six weeks.”
NPR reports that Architect Blanton also said that while many of the vandalized and damaged Capitol building walls and artifacts are being replaced or removed entirely from the building for safety, he and his staff were able to preserve some items “for a potential presentation or display.” To top all of this off, Blanton told the committee that many of his staff, who are and will continue to be working in the Capitol building and on the Capitol campus, have yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
House curator Farar Elliott asked for $25,000 “for emergency repair and conservation of objects in the House collection. She told the committee that while her budget is usually padded to handle “a single unforeseen conservation event,” what happened on Jan. 6 was far more than an accident.
These costs are simply the costs the architect of the Capitol needs to try and restore both the edifice of the building as well as the people whose job it is to maintain that symbol of our democracy. These are the costs for the people that work in that building. Blanton’s $30 million is not connected to the further budget considerations that will be asked for and needed. Everything from additional security personnel to law enforcement, and legal costs, which will be accrued over the course of the next few years as insurrectionists have their days in court. Maybe the Republican Party can take some of its hate-raised funds from candidates’ war chests and help fix what they’ve broken.