Changes to Committee Leadership Impact Law enforcement
By Dennis McGrann, POAM Lobbyist, Washington, D.C.
Washington continues to chug along with Congress still unable to approve a full funding bill for 2011. On March 18th the President signed the latest extension of 2011 funding, which gives Congressional Leaders and the White House until April 8th to try to reach a deal on spending for the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate passed the measure (H J Res 48) by a 87-13 vote, with the legislation attracting an additional four GOP “nay”votes compared to the previous Continuing Resolution (CR) extension. Floor debate on the issue has focused on the desired level of spending for the year, with House Leadership arguing for more cuts. The House passed the three-week extension of stopgap funding by a 271-158 vote, with 85 Democrats joining 186 Republicans in support of the measure (H J Res 48). To strike a longer deal on a fiscal 2011 spending bill, discussions with House Republicans and the White House will likely have to target domestic discretionary spending, military spending, and entitlement programs. As of print, the two Chambers are scheduled to return the week of March 28th, leaving Members two weeks of working session to strike a deal. Michigan’s New Members: In January the U.S. House of Representatives wel- comed four new House Members from Michigan into the 112th Congress. Congressman Dan Beniskek (R-1st CD) from Iron Mountain who sits on the National Resources, Science, Space & Technology, and Veterans’Affairs Com- mittee; Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-CD 2nd) from Cadillac who sits on the Financial Services Committee; Congressman Justin Amash (R-3rd CD) from Grand Rapids who sits on the Budget, Oversight & Government Reform, and Joint Economic Committee; and Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-13th CD) from Detriot who sits on the Homeland Security and Science, Space & Technology Committee. Michigan’s Increased Influence: The November mid-term election proved to be an eventful day resulting in the House “flipping” and the Republican Party re-establishing the major- ity they lost in 2006, gaining a total of 63 seats. Following an election, par- ticularly one of this nature, there are several changes to committee leader- ship that can have significant impact on local law enforcement, for example Congressman David Camp (R-4th CD) fromMidland is now the Chair- man of the Ways and Means Committee with Congressman Sander Levin (D-12th CD) of Roseville as Ranking Member, this committee has jurisdic- tion over work incentive programs including pensions and social security. Additionally, Congressman Fred Upton (R-6th CD), from Kalamazoo is now the Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over communication technologies such as an interoperabil- ity network including the “D-Block”; Congressman Mike Rogers (R-8th CD) of Lansing has been elected Chairman of the Intelligence Committee charged with the oversight of the United States Intelligence Community and National Security; and Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-14th CD) or Detriot is now the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee. Interoperability Network: As Congress prepares to tackle freeing up more radio spectrum for wire- less broadband, there are still several concerns surrounding the issue many of which will play out in Congressman Upton’s committee over the next few months. Last March, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recommended that 500 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum be cleared off and auctioned to wireless carriers as part of its National Broadband Plan and President Obama has wrapped that recommendation into his new wireless initiative to foster broadband access. On Capitol Hill, the question of incentive auctions is bound up with the question of whether to auction off a slice of the 10 megahertz vacant spec- trum known as the “D-block”or to simply turn it over to public safety agen- cies. As the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks draws near, lawmakers and industry players differ over which course is the better way to fund a nationwide, interoperable public safety communications network. To date, the White House supports the direct allocation of this valuable chunk of airwaves to public safety purposes. The President’s Budget plan calls for a $10.7 billion com- mitment to support the development and deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband network to afford public safety agencies with far greater levels of effectiveness and interoperability. An important element of this plan is the reallocation of the DBlock for public safety. Furthermore, on January 25th, 2011 Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced “The Public Safety and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011”(S. 28), which establishes a framework for the deployment of a nationwide, interop- erable, wireless broadband network for public safety and allocates the D-Block to public safety. A House companion, the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011 (HR 607) was introduced by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) on February 10th, 2011. Michigan LE Notes: The Washington D.C. office of POAM is in constant communication with the Michigan delegation regarding pertinent law enforcement related legislation and actions that support Michigan’s law enforcement commu- nity. Below we have compiled a selected list of the recent law enforcement related actions and bills supported byMembers of the Michigan delegation in the 112th Congress. In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Detroit-area police department, Congressman Clarke’s office reached out to the Washington office of POAM to reiterate his commitment to ensure that police departments have the re- sources to keep themselves safe as they work to keep Michigan’s commu- nities safe. Congressman Clarke’s staff has let us know the Congressman has raised the issue of funding for local first responders at every Home- land Security Committee hearing this year, and has spoken personally with Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder about the need for more resources in Michigan. Most recently, he sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano urging her to reexamine metro Detroit’s status in the Urban Area Security Initiative grant program and to perform other analysis to recognize that Michigan needs additional resources to keep its people and the homeland safe. National Blue Alert Act of 2011 (HR 365) Introduced by Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) on 01/20/2011 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary-Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security MI Co-Sponsors: Congressman Mike Rogers (R-8th CD) Summary: The National Blue Alert Act of 2011directs the Attorney General to: (1) establish a communications network within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to disseminate information when a law enforcement of- ficer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty; and (2) assign a DOJ officer to act as the national coordinator of the Blue Alert communications network. Sets forth the duties of the national coordinator, including encour- aging states and local governments to develop additional Blue Alert plans, establishing voluntary guidelines for states and local governments to use in developing such plans, developing protocols for efforts to apprehend suspects, and establishing an advisory group to assist states, local govern- ments, law enforcement agencies, and other entities in initiating, facilitat- ing, and promoting Blue Alert plans. Furthermore, the bill would amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act to require the use of public safety and community policing grants to assist states in developing and enhancing a Blue Alert plan and communications network. National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S.306) Introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary MI Co-sponsors: Senator Carl Levin (D) Summary: Establishes the National Criminal Justice Commission and directs the Commission to: (1) review all areas of the criminal justice system, including federal, state, local, and tribal governments’ criminal justice costs, practices, and policies; (2) make findings regarding such review and recommendations for changes to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, reduce recidivism, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system; (3) consult with government and nongovern- ment leaders, including the United States Sentencing Commission; and (4) submit a final report on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations to Congress, the President, and state, local, and tribal governments and make such report available to the public As always, the Washington, DC office of POAM will be closely follow- ing legislation pertinent to the police and peace officers of Michigan. If you have any questions or need additional information regarding federal initia- tives regarding the law enforcement community, please do not hesitate to contact us at (202) 544-9840.