Washington Watch

For the Week of 18 April 2016

  1. Legislative News and Activity
  2. This Week in Congress
  3. Update on Top Legislative Priorities
  4. VEST BILL PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE!!!
  5. SENATE CLEARS FALLEN HEROES FLAG ACT: Legislation will provide Capitol-flown flags to families of fallen public safety officers
  6. Follow the FOP National Legislative Office on Twitter!

I.   LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY

Executive Director Jim Pasco met with Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), to discuss ongoing investigations.

Executive Director Pasco met with Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin to discuss National Police Week issues.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Heather Childs, Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillen Yates, on FOP priorities.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to discuss National Police Week issues.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with Uma Amuluru, Counsel to U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, to discuss DOJ activities.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson represented the FOP at a "Rank and File Forum" hosted by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The speakers at this event included: U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and Principal Deputy U.S. Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta.

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Mike Martin met with staff in the office of Representative Donald W. Norcross (D-NJ) to discuss H.R. 4880, the "Protecting Lives Using Surplus (PLUS) Equipment Act."

Legislative Liaison Marisa Beam spoke with staff in the office of Senator Gary C. Peters (D-MI) on multiple occasions to discuss the introduction of a Senate companion bill to H.R. 2254, the “Law Enforcement Officer’s Equity Act.”

Legislative Liaison Martin met with staff in the office of Representative John R. Garamendi (D-CA) to discuss H.R. 4880, the “Protecting Lives Using Surplus (PLUS) Equipment Act.”

Legislative Liaison Martin met with staff in the offices of Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI), Minority Leader Nancy P. Pelosi (D-CA), and Majority Leader Kevin O. McCarthy (R-CA) to discuss the “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)” efforts.

II.   THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both chambers were in session this week.

Action in the House

The House considered and passed four bills aiming to reform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

  • H.R. 1206, the "No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act," passed on a 254-170 vote;
  • H.R. 3724, the "Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act," passed on a 354-78 vote;
  • H.R. 4885, the "IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act," passed on a 249-175; and
  • H.R. 4890, a bill banning ban bonuses to IRS employees of the Internal Revenue Service until the adoption of a comprehensive customer service strategy, passed on a 260-158 vote.

Action in House Committees

The Committee on the Judiciary considered and favorably reported S. 125, the "Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Reauthorization Act," without amendment on a voice vote. Representative Jason E. Chaffetz (R-UT) was heard to vote against the bill. The legislation will now go to the House floor for further action. See Item V. below for more information.

The Committee on the Judiciary also considered and passed H.R. 3380, the "Transnational Drug Trafficking Act," and H.R. 4985, amending the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, on voice votes.

The Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a hearing entitled: "The Human Toll of the Obama Administration's Reckless Immigration Policies: The Victims of Criminal Aliens Speak Out."

The Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing entitled: "Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives."

Action in the Senate

The Senate spent the week considering amendments to H.R. 636, the "Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization," before passing the measure on a 95-3 vote. The bill now goes to the House for further consideration. 

The Senate also considered and passed S. 2012, the "Energy Policy Modernization Act," on an 85-13 vote. This bill will also go to the House for further consideration.

The Senate began consideration of H.R. 2028, the "Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act."

Action in Senate Committees

The Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science considered and adopted a draft appropriation measure, which includes $2.4 billion in grants to help State and local law enforcement fight crime, including $384 million for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne-JAG) and $187 million in COPS Hiring which will place another 1,000 police officers on our neighborhood streets. More details will be available when the text of the draft bill is released next week.

III.   UPDATE ON TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
For the complete list of cosponsors for all of our top legislative priorities, or to find out if your Representative and Senators are cosponsors of specific bills, check out http://thomas.loc.gov.

A. Support H.R. 973/S. 1651, the "Social Security Fairness Act"
We added 3 cosponsors to H.R. 973, bringing our current total to 141. We have a total of 23 cosponsors on S. 1651.

B. Support H.R. 2254, the "Law Enforcement Officers' Equity Act"
We have a total of 17 cosponsors on H.R. 2254.

IV.   VEST BILL PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE!!!

canterburyChuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed news that the House Committee on the Judiciary considered and favorably reported S. 125, the “Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Grant Program Reauthorization Act,” on a voice vote. Representative Jason E. Chaffetz (R-UT) was the only dissenting vote. The bill passed the Senate 99-0 almost one year ago.

“This bill, introduced by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), is a key piece of the FOP’s Officer Safety Agenda and we’re pleased that the Judiciary Committee has finally acted on this bill,” Canterbury said. “We’re very grateful for the strong and consistent support from Senator Leahy and we intend to ask the Speaker to bring the measure to the floor for a final vote soon.”

The Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Grant Program provides matching Federal funds to State and local law enforcement agencies allowing them to purchase or upgrade the soft body armor worn by their officers. More than one million vests have been bought through this program which has greatly increased the safety of officers on the beat. It was also a key recommendation of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The bill, which would reauthorize the program through FY2020, now goes to the House floor.

The first certified “save”­ that is, a shooting that would have resulted in the death of an officer but for the use of soft body armor­ was in December 1975. Since that time, more than 3,100 officers have been certified as saved by their bullet-resistant vest.

“Six officers have had their lives saved since mid- October thanks to the BVP program. How many programs can quantify their success so starkly?” said Canterbury. “That’s 3,100 law enforcement officers that go home to their families and 3,100 names that will not have be inscribed on the Wall of Remembrance at Judiciary Square; this program saves lives.”

V.   SENATE CLEARS FALLEN HEROES FLAG ACT: Legislation will provide Capitol-flown flags to families of fallen public safety officersChuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed news that the United States Senate passed S. 2755, the “Fallen Heroes Flag Act,” by unanimous consent last night.

canterbury“The FOP has been working on this legislation since the 1990s because we thought it was important that Members of Congress have the ability to recognize the sacrifice of our nation’s law enforcement and other public safety officers by flying a flag over the U.S. Capitol in their honor,” Canterbury said.

The House bill, H.R. 723, was introduced by Representative Peter T. King (R-NY), a long-time proponent of the legislation. It was approved by the House last May during National Police Week but languished in the Senate. The FOP engaged with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Rules Committee, Senators Roy D. Blunt (R-MO) and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), who pledged to work with the FOP to draft a Senate companion bill.

“The FOP engaged with the Rules Committee and reached out to the Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, whose support and cosponsorship of the measure helped get it to the floor this week,” Canterbury said. “We expect the House to hold the Senate version of the bill at the desk and take it up during National Police Week in May.”

The legislation would provide the families of law enforcement officers and other public safety officers who have been killed in the line of duty with a United States flag which was flown over the Capitol in recognition of their sacrifice.

VI. Follow the FOP National Legislative Office on Twitter!
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