Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 13 December 2010 …
 

I.               Legislative News and Activity  
II.             This Week in Congress
III.            Update on FOP Top Legislative Priorities
IV.     Update on LEOSA Improvements Act
V.      Update on National Blue Alert Act
VI.     FOP NEWS: FCC Takes Action to Advance Interoperability for Public Safety Broadband Communications
VII.    FOP NEWS: Law Enforcement Badge of Bravery: Call for Nominations
VIII.   DAY ON THE HILL 2011!!!
IX.     FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco represented the Fraternal Order of Police at the annual Christmas reception hosted by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.  At this event, Attorney General Holder approached Executive Director Pasco and requested that he and National President Chuck Canterbury arrange a meeting after the New Year.

Executive Director Pasco was also approached at this event by John T. Morton, Director of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to discuss briefly issues related to immigration and border protection.

Executive Director Pasco represented the Fraternal Order of Police at the annual Christmas Party hosted by Robert S. Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Executive Director Pasco met with George H. Bostick, Benefits Tax Counsel, at the U.S. Department of the Treasury to discuss the Department’s analysis of existing rules on Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) plans.  This meeting is the first in an ongoing dialogue on this issue.

Executive Director Paso met with Henry Lescault, Chief of the Liaison Division at the Buearu of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in the U.S. Department of Justice on issues of mutual interest to ATF and the FOP.

Executive Director Pasco met with Bruce Cohen, Majority Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, to discuss the FOP’s efforts to move S. 3972, the “National Blue Al;ert Act,” and the objections to the bill raised by Senator Thomas A. Coburn, MD (R-OK).

Development Director Jessica Caswell met with head of the IAFF Burn Foundation to talk about different ways the FOP Foundation and Burn Foundation can work cooperatively.

Legislative Liaisons Jessica Caswell and Breanna Bock-Nielsen represented the FOP at a monthly coalition meeting of law enforcement and criminal justice organizations.

II.  THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and the Senate were in session this week. 

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 2965, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act,” on a 250-175 vote.  The bill, which would repeal the existing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with respect to homosexuals serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, now goes to the Senate for further action.

The House considered and passed H.R. 4853, the “Middle Class Tax Relief Act,” on an 81-19 vote.  The bill, which would make permanent certain tax cuts which were to have expired at the end of the year, was passed by the Senate and now goes to the President for his signature.

The House is expected to consider H.R. 6523, the “Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011,” sometime on Friday.  The bill would then go to the Senate, which may consider the bill as early as this weekend.

Action in the Senate
The Senate may consider H.R. 2965, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act,” this weekend.  The bill, which would repeal the existing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with respect to homosexuals serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, was passed by the House on 250-175 vote earlier this week.

The Senate began debate on H.R. 3082, the “Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,” which passed the House last week.  The bill, which funds the government at FY2010 levels for the remainder of this Fiscal Year, was unlikely to be able to get enough votes to pass, so Senator Harry M. Reid (D-NV), the Majority Leader, pulled the bill off the floor, effectively killing the bill.

The Senate considered and passed H.R. 4853, the “Middle Class Tax Relief Act,” on an 81-19 vote.  The bill, which would make permanent certain tax cuts which were to have expired at the end of the year, then went to the House for action.

The Senate may consider H.R. 5281, the “Removal Clarification Act,” this weekend.  This is very similar to S. 3992, the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act,” and would grant amnesty to adults under the age of thirty who illegally entered the United States prior to their 16th birthday if they fulfill certain criteria.  This version of the bill was passed by the House last week on a 216-198 vote.

The Senate may consider H.R. 6523, the “Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011,” sometime this weekend, assuming the measure is approved by the House sometime today.

The Senate began debate on Treaty Document 111-5, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  A vote on the bill may come as early as this weekend.

III.  UPDATE ON FOP 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.  Social Security Issues

(1)  Support H.R. 235/S. 484, the “Social Security Fairness Act”
We currently have a total of three hundred and twenty-four (324) cosponsors on H.R. 235–more than a House majority!  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including six (6) Representatives who are no longer serving in Congress, nor the four (4) Delegates, who have limited voting rights on the floor.
 
We currently have thirty (30) cosponsors on S. 484.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including in our count Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), who died last year.  Senator Kennedy’s successor, Senator Scott P. Brown (R-MA), is not currently a cosponsor of the bill.

(2)  Opposing any legislation that would require the participation of public employees in Social Security
The FOP will continue to lobby against this scheme and oppose any legislation which would mandate participation in Social Security.

B.  Support H.R. 413/S. 1611/S. 3194/S. 3991, the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”
We currently have two hundred and twenty-two (222) cosponsors on H.R. 413–more than a House majority!  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including in our count three (3) Representatives no longer serving in Congress, nor the three (3) Delegates, who have limited voting rights on the floor.

We currently have twenty-five (25) cosponsors on S. 1611.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including in our count Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), who died last year, or Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), who resigned his seat last year.  Senator Scott P. Brown (R-MA), who succeeded Senator Kennedy is now a cosponsor, but Senator George LeMieux (R-FL), who succeeded Senator Martinez, is not.

In addition to S. 1611, Senator Reid introduced S. 3194, which is identical to S. 1611.  This was done purely as a procedural matter and that bill has no cosponsors.

Earlier this month, without any consultation with the Fraternal Order of Police, Senator Reid introduced yet a third version of the legislation, S. 3991.  This version of the legislation included language drafted by the National Sheriffs Association which would allow States to exclude law enforcement officers that worked for Sheriffs’ offices from all of the bill’s protections.  For this reason, the FOP pulled its support for the bill.

Last week, the Senate rejected the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill on a 55-43 vote.  Fifty-five (55) Democrats voted in favor of cloture.  Three (3) Democrats:  Michael F. Bennett (CO), Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), and Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined forty (40) Republicans and voted against the bill.  Senators Samuel D. Brownback (R-KS) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), sponsor fop the original bill, did not vote.

Given this result, it is highly unlikely there will be another vote on this legislation before the 111th Congress adjourns sine die.

C.  Support H.R. 1972, the “Law Enforcement Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act”
We currently have a total of eleven (11) cosponsors on H.R. 1972.

The Senate companion bill has not yet been introduced.

D.  Support H.R. 673, the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act”
We currently have thirty-six (36) cosponsors on H.R. 673.  Please note that this total differs slightly from THOMAS, as we are not including in our count two (2) Representative no longer serving in Congress.

The Senate companion bill, S.3944, has been introduced, but does not yet have any cosponsors.

IV.     UPDATE ON LEGISLATION AMENDING LEOSA
The National Legislative Office continues to seek a dialogue with appropriate officials within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) regarding their misunderstanding of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act (LEOSA) Improvements Act. 

V.      UPDATE ON NATIONAL BLUE ALERT ACT
The FOP continues to work with Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to get S. 3927, the “National Blue Alert Act,” to the Senate floor for a vote.  Last week, Chairman Leahy attempted to “hotline” the bill–a process by which legislation is circulated to all members of the Committee and then to all members of both caucuses in order to assess whether or not the bill can be brought to the floor and passed by unanimous consent. 

Unfortunately, Senator Coburn, MD, objected to the bill.  The National Legislative Office continues to work with our Oklahoma members to contact Senator Coburn and respectfully request that he allow the bill to proceed to the floor.  We continue to urge Oklahoma members, or any member with any ties or relationship to Senator Coburn, to contact his office at 202-224-5754 and urge him to let the bill move forward.

VI.     FOP NEWS : FCC Takes Action to Advance Interoperability for Public Safety Broadband Communications

The FCC�s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) adopted an Order that establishes a technical framework to ensure interoperability in the public safety mobile broadband networks states, counties and cities approved for early deployment are planning to construct.  These regional broadband networks must be technically compatible and fully interoperable with one another, as well as the nationwide network envisioned for America�s first responders. 

James Arden Barnett, Jr., Rear Admiral (ret.) and Chief of the PSHSB, said, �There are many forces that pull against interoperability, this is why it is critical that we have an iron rule of interoperability for America�s public safety mobile broadband networks.  Our goal is to make sure that nationwide interoperability is built into these networks from the beginning, and we will continue to work with public safety to make sure their immediate and long-term communications needs are met.�

Jennifer Manner, Deputy Bureau Chief, PSHSB, and Acting Director of ERIC, said, �Interoperability for America�s first responders is crucial to ensuring effective broadband communications nationwide. The technical framework we�ve set forth will help ensure that these regional public safety mobile broadband networks are interoperable and capable of seamlessly evolving and integrating into a nationwide network as it is constructed. We look forward to our continued work with public safety on the technical and policy considerations necessary to achieve this.�

The FCC requirements for a baseline technical framework address core aspects for interoperable communications, such as roaming capabilities, system identifiers, service coverage and secure communications, to ensure that public safety officials can communicate effectively and seamlessly with one another regardless of what network they are operating on. The Order is based on recommendations made by the FCC�s Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) to ensure that public safety broadband communications are interoperable nationwide.

Under the baseline technical framework, waiver recipients will:

  •  
    • Construct networks that support Long Term Evolution (LTE) interfaces that support roaming and interoperability;
    • Construct networks that provide outdoor coverage at minimum data rates of 256 Kbps uplink and 768 Kbps downlink for all types of devices throughout the cell coverage area;
    • Provide 95 percent reliability of signal coverage for all services and applications throughout the network;
    • Conduct conformance testing on devices to ensure compliance with technical requirements associated with 3GPP Release 8 (LTE) and higher release standards;
    • Perform interoperability testing of the LTE interfaces to determine their roaming capabilities and make sure that these capabilities are sufficient;
    • Build security and encryption features into their networks based on certain optional features of the 3GPP security features for LTE Network Access Domain;
    • Allow to use permanent fixed point-to-point and point-to-multipoint stations only on an ancillary basis and on a non-interference basis to the primary mobile operations; and
    • Coordinate with one another when their networks overlap or operate adjacent to one another to avoid signal/spectral interference or disruption to communications.

For additional information about the Order please contact Jennifer Manner, Deputy Bureau Chief, PSHSB and acting Director of ERIC, at 202-418-3619 or via email: jennifer.manner@fcc.gov

VII.     FOP NEWS : Law Enforcement Badge of Bravery: Call for Nominations

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance is accepting nominations beginning today for the Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery and the State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. 

Every day, Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement officers engage in exceptional acts of bravery while in the line of duty.  To honor these acts of bravery, Congress passed the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-298) creating the Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery and the State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery.
 
WHAT:  The 2010 Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery and the State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. 

NOMINATION PERIOD:  Open December 15, 2010 through February 15, 2011, nominations
must be submitted through the online Congressional Badge of Bravery nominating system, available at www.ojp.gov/BJA/CBOB.
 
CRITERIA: Acts of bravery, as described by the Act, performed between January 1, 2010 to
December 31, 2010, by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officer(s), nominated by their
agency�s leadership.
 
REFERENCES:  Additional information about the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of
Bravery is available at www.ojp.gov/BJA/CBOB.

VIII.      Day on the Hill 2011: 14-16 February!!!
The FOP Day on The Hill 2011 will begin on Monday, 14 February 2011.  The National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing on our legislative agenda at the District of Columbia Lodge #1 at 711 4th Street, NW.  The briefing will take place on Monday afternoon and last approximately one hour.  Additional details will be forthcoming.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 15-16 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts.  These appointments should be made in advance!!!  Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.

Accommodations for Day on the Hill Participants
The National Legislative Office will be arranging a room block with a local hotel.  We will make this information available AS SOON AS POSSIBLE–watch your email and the Grand Lodge website for the latest news!!

IX.     FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is now on Facebook!
Because our grassroots are so important to our efforts on Capitol Hill, we have created a National Legislative Office Facebook page to keep our members informed.

Take a moment now to join our Facebook page to stay current with the latest information from Washington, D.C.  Please feel free to join in any of our discussions and don’t forget to invite all your FOP brothers and sisters to join!

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National Fraternal Order of Police PAC
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Contributions or gifts to the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.  Only PERSONAL or NON CORPORATE checks may be accepted.  A contribution of $25 is suggested, but please contribute more if you are able, and a lesser amount if you are not.  Contributions to the NATL FOP PAC are strictly voluntary and FOP members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal.  Your contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support law enforcement.  Federal law requires political action committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 per calendar year.

Questions or Comments?  E-mail us at grassroots@fop.net or call (202) 547 – 8189.

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