Washington Watch: Legislative Update

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Washington Watch: Legislative Update

2016-05-20T21:10:35+00:00May 20th, 2016|From the Grand Lodge, Legislation|Comments Off on Washington Watch: Legislative Update

Washington Watch: Legislative Update
For the Week of 16 May 2016

I.      Legislative News and Activity
II.     This Week in Congress
III.   Update on Top Legislative Priorities
IV.    Vest Grant and Fallen Heroes Flag Bills Signed into Law
V.     COPS EXPANSION PASSES THE SENATE!
VI.    FOP TOP PRIORITY INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE: Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act
VII.   President Obama Recognizes FOP in Remarks at Presentation of Medals of Valor
VIII.  Follow the FOP National Legislative Office on Twitter!

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco spoke 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 spoke with Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to discuss violence against police.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with G. Scott Hulsey, Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General about the Administration’s Use of Force Task Force.

Executive Director Pasco spoke with several Administrative and other officials about the FOP’s Our True Heroes initiative.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson, Legislative Liaisons Marisa Beam and Mike Martin, along with approximately 20 other FOP members, represented the FOP at a reception at the White House for the Medal of Valor recipients (See Item VII. for more information).

Legislative Liaison Beam met with staff in the offices of Senator’s Dianne B. Feinstein (D-CA) and Amy J. Klobuchar (D-MN) to discuss law enforcement concerns with H.R. 699, the “Email Privacy Act.”

Legislative Liaison Martin met with staff in the offices of the Majority and Minority Leaders, Representatives Kevin O. McCarthy (R-CA) and Nancy P. Pelosi (D-CA) to discuss the anti-opioid legislation pending in the House.

Legislative Liaison Martin met with staff in the office of Representative John R. Carter (R-TX), to discuss H.R. 4584/S. 2840, the “Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion (POLICE) Act.”

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

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 4909, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017,” on a 277-147 vote.  The bill will be transmitted to the Senate for further action.

The House considered and passed H.R. 4974, the “Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 ,” on a 295-129 vote.  The bill will be transmitted to the Senate for further action.

Action in House Committees
The Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies marked up a favorably reported draft legislation.  The FOP is analyzing the draft, which will be considered by the full Committee next week.

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and passed S. 2840, the “Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion (POLICE) Act,” by unanimous consent.  The bill was transmitted to the House and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary for further action.  (See Item V. for more information.)

The Senate considered, amended and passed H.R. 2577, the “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016,” on an 89-8 vote.  The bill will be transmitted to the House for further action.

Action in Senate Committees
The Immigration and the National Interest Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing entitled: “Declining Deportations and Increasing Criminal Alien Releases – The Lawless Immigration Policies of the Obama Administration.”

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 1 cosponsor to H.R. 973, bringing our current total to 14.

We have 24 cosponsors on S. 1651.

B.  Support H.R. 2254/S. 2946, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act”
We added 3 cosponsors to H.R. 2254, brining our current total to 20.

The Senate companion bill, S. 2946, was introduced this week with 1 cosponsor.  (See Item VI. below for additional information.)

IV.      VEST GRANT AND FALLEN HEROES FLAG BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW: President announces signings at Medal of Valor Presentation
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded President Barack Obama following his announcement at the Medal of Valor presentations that he had signed into law S. 125, the “Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Grant Program Reauthorization Act,” and S. 2755, the “Fallen Heroes Flag Act,” into law.

“The FOP was very pleased that the President signed these bills into law and even more so that he did so on the same day that he presented Medals of Valor to the officers whose actions went above and beyond the call of duty.  I’m proud to say we had more than 20 members of the FOP attend the presentation to support their fellow officers,” Canterbury said.

It was the National FOP that originally conceived the Medal of Valor award.  Enacted in 2001, the Public Safety Medal of Valor Act created a medal, awarded by the President in the name of Congress, to law enforcement officers who demonstrate courage and bravery above and beyond the call of duty without regard for their personal safety.  The President presented a Medal of Valor, one posthumously, to 13 law enforcement officers.

In his remarks, the President singled out the FOP for its work on legislation, officer safety and honoring law enforcement families.  He also stated that he signed S. 125 into law.

The reauthorization of the BVP program is a key component of the FOP’s Officer Safety agenda and a recommendation of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.  The bill passed the Senate last year and the House last week.

“The FOP, our staff and our members, worked very hard to get this bill through the House this year and we’re very proud of our success,” Canterbury said.  “We’re especially grateful for the hard work of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Leahy as well as his staff who gave us tremendous support.”

The President also indicated that he signed S. 2755 into law.  The FOP worked with the leadership of the Rules Committee and the Senate to draft, introduce and quickly pass this legislation which 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.

“There’s nothing that can replace the loss of a loved one, but to have an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol–a powerful symbol of our nation and democracy and the very principles for which they gave their lives–is a powerful reminder of their sacrifice and dedication,” Canterbury said.

Both bills became law today.

V.      COPS EXPANSION PASSES THE SENATE
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed news that the Senate passed S. 2840, the “Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion (POLICE) Act,” after our champions in the Senate, and lead sponsors on this bill, Senator John Cornyn III (R-TX) and Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), called for a unanimous voice vote.

“This legislation, introduced by Senators Cornyn and Leahy, expands the COPS Office to now allow grant recipients the ability to purchase active shooter training. Active shooter situations have become all too common in our country over the last few years and it is imperative that law enforcement is properly trained to deal with these scenarios whenever they arise. This training will not only save the lives of law enforcement officers, but it will save the lives of countless innocent civilians who find themselves in those deadly and terrible situations,” stated Canterbury.

Canterbury continued, “I would like to thank again Senators Cornyn and Leahy for their constant work to help improve and protect the lives of law enforcement officers around the country. Their work on these issues never goes unnoticed to our members. We now ask the House to take this bill up immediately and send it to the President.”


VI.    FOP TOP PRIORITY INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE: Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded the introduction of S. 2946, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Equity Act,” by Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ). This bill is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2254.

“To this day nearly 30,000 Federal law enforcement officers are still not receiving equal status under current pay and retirement laws as their Federal law enforcement colleagues,” Canterbury said.

This legislation would provide these brave men and women with 6(c) benefits and the ability to retire after twenty (20) years of service at the age of fifty (50), or twenty-five (25) years of service at any age.  This is the same benefit currently received by most criminal investigators and Federal law enforcement officers in several agencies.  This bill will also provide for savings in training costs, improve recruitment and retention of qualified officers, and enhance public safety.

“These dedicated men and women put their lives on the line as law enforcement officers for different agencies throughout the Federal government,” Canterbury said. “Officers classified as 0083’s in agencies like the Department of Defense and Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, F.B.I., U.S. Postal Police, Federal Protective Service, National Institute of Health, U.S. Mint, and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving are among those Federal officers still not receiving these specific benefits. These officers serve as our Federal Government’s first line of defense and are asked to face the same hazards as their State and local counterparts,” said Canterbury.

“Since OPM will not amend its outdated law enforcement officer definition and the judicial review process has failed, the best and fairest remedy to this injustice is legislation amending U.S. Code to grant all GS-0083 officers law enforcement officer status,” Canterbury said. “We strongly endorse the passage of this bill and applaud the efforts of Senator Booker in recognizing this important issue of Federal retirement.”

VII.     President Obama Recognizes FOP in Remarks at Presentation of Medals of Valor
You can view a transcript of his remarks here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/16/remarks-president-presentation-medal-valor

VIII.     Follow the FOP National Legislative Office on Twitter!

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John Blackmon

A retired law enforcement officer who now serves as the President of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3.
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