Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 15 November 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.      FOP NEWS: National Blue Alert Legislation Introduced in the Senate
VI.     FOP NEWS: FOP President on Capitol Hill in Support of 9/11 Bill
VII.    FOP NEWS: FOP Top Priority Introduced in the Senate
VIII.   FOP NEWS: President Appoints FOP Member to Federal Advisory Council
IX.     FOP NEWS: FOP and OnStar Team Up on Brave On Campaign
X.      FOP NEWS: FOP Announces Support for Hoyer in Leadership Race
XI.     FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is Now on Facebook!

I.      LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
National President Chuck Canterbury attended and spoke at press event hosted by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY) in support of the H.R. 847, the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.”   The event was also attended by National Secertary Pat Yoes, Executive Director Jim Pasco, and FOP representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, and other States.  See Item VI. below for additional information about this event.

Executive Director Pasco met with Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to discuss our efforts in the Senate to move H.R. 847.

Executive Director Pasco met with Alan Hoffman, Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., regarding the FOP’s top legislative priorities.

Executive Director Pasco met with staff in the office of the Senate Majority Leader to move H.R. 847.

Executive Director Pasco attended the Senate Judiciary Committee’s nomination hearing on Michele M. Leonhart to be the next Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Executive Director Pasco represented the FOP at a reception marking the 10th anniversary of the Office of Community Policing Oriented Services (COPS).

Executive Director Pasco represented the FOP at a reception hosted by the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) in support of a mutual and ongoing effort in support of the activity of the Office of Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson attended the quarterly board meeting of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust on behalf of National Vice President David Hiller.

II.  THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Both the House and the Senate returned to Washington, D.C. for a post-election lame duck session this week.  Both chambers will go into recess next week in observance of Thanksgiving. 

Action in the House
The House considered, amended and passed H.R. 5566, the “Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act,” which would prohibit the sale, possession and create of “crush” video depicting extreme violence against animals.  The Senate, which had passed the bill in September, must now consider the amended version.

The House considered and passed S. 3774 on a 366-40 vote.  The bill extends the ability of States to use certain emergency supplemental appropriations in response to a natural disaster occurring in 2008.  The bill will now go to the President for his signature.

In House leadership elections for the 112th Congress, Representative John A. Boehner (R-OH) was selected to lead the Republican Caucus and will be voted in as Speaker of the House when the new Congress is sworn in next year.  Representative Eric I. Cantor (R-VA) will be elected to the post of Majority Leader, and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will serve as Majority Whip.

The Democrats re-elected Representative Nancy P. Pelosi as their leader, and she will serve as Minority Leader when the new Congress is sworn in next year.  Representative Steny H. Hoyer, whom the FOP backed in his race for Minority Whip, was re-elected as well and will serve in the number two post.  See Item X. for more information.

Action in House Committees
The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the Ethics Committee, found Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), guilty of 11 of the 13 counts charged against him.  The Committee voted to censure Rep. Rangel, and the full House will vote on this recommendation when the House returns from its Thanksgiving Day recess. 

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered S. 3772, the “Pay Check Fairness Act,” which would make it easier to file sex discrimination cases in wage claims by putting the legal onus on employers to prove that pay discrepancies between women and men doing the same jobs were the result of non-discriminatory business necessities.  The motion to proceed to the bill was filibuster and the motion to invoke cloture failed on a 58-41 vote.

The Senate considered and passed S. 3774 by unanimous consent.  The bill extends the ability of States to use certain emergency supplemental appropriations in response to a natural disaster occurring in 2008, and was transmitted the bill to the House for further action.

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on Judiciary held a hearing on the nomination of Michele M. Leonhart to be the next Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.  The FOP strongly supports her nomination.

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 added one (1) cosponsor to H.R. 235, bringing our current total to three hundred and twenty-four (324) cosponsors–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, the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”
We added one (1) cosponsor to H.R. 413, bringing our current total to 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.

C.  Support H.R. 1972, the “Law Enforcement Officer’s 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 thirty-five (35) 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, was introduced this week.  See Item VI. below for more information.  The bill 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.  National President Canterbury sent a letter to Secretary Robert M. Gates about the issue and requested a meeting.  We have not yet heard back from the Secertary, though we did receive a non-responsive letter from DoD’s Office on Human Resources.

V.     FOP NEWS: National Blue Alert Legislation Introduced in Senate!

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed the introduction of S. 3972, the “National Blue Alert Act.”  The bill would help establish a “National Blue Alert” system for the local, regional and national dissemination of time-sensitive information to help identify a suspect in the event that a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.

“Law enforcement officers are in harm’s way each and every hour of their shift,” Canterbury said. “This Blue Alert legislation provides law enforcement and the public with the tools needed for the expeditious apprehension of our most dangerous assailants—those who attack a law enforcement officer.”

The legislation, introduced by Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), would mirror the existing “Amber Alert” system by using existing communications networks to immediately disseminate sensitive information to appropriate law enforcement and other public agencies when an officer goes missing, is severely injured or killed in the line of duty. Specifically, this bill would authorize $5 million dollars through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in U.S. Department of Justice to encourage, enhance, and integrate “Blue Alert” plans through a system of training and support for State and local law enforcement units. For those States with such systems in place, an additional $5 million is authorized to improve them with new technologies.

“This is about officer safety,” Canterbury added, “We strongly support its passage and look forward to working with Senate leadership to pass the bill.”

VI.     FOP NEWS: FOP President on Capitol Hill in Support of 9/11 Bill

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, participated in a large press conference hosted by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY) to demonstrate strong support for H.R. 847, the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.” The bill, which passed the House in September, is pending in the Senate.

“The men and women that responded on 9/11 ran into harm’s way and many never went home to their families,” Canterbury said. “Those who came in the hours and months after the collapse of the Twin Towers also faced a deadly, but unseen threat­the long-term health effects that have developed as a result of exposure to the deadly mix of toxins released when the World Trade Center fell. They did their duty, and now the Senate must do its duty by passing this legislation.”

Canterbury spoke at the press conference, which also featured remarks from Senator Gillibrand, as well as Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and U.S. Representatives Peter T. King (R-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Michael McMahon (D-NY), and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY). Several groups from the AFL-CIO also attended in a show of labor solidarity.

The bill, which would provide sick public safety officers and other responders with medical treatment and compensation for their 9/11 illnesses, passed the House on a bipartisan 268-160 vote. The Senate must follow suit before the end of this Congress later this year.

“I have urged Senate leadership to take up this bill and have let them know that we will be watching,” Canterbury said. “The attacks of 9/11 were an attack on the nation, and our nation has a responsibility to assist those heroes who answered the call.”

VII.    FOP NEWS: FOP Top Priority introduced in the Senate

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, hailed the introduction of S.3944, the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act.”

“Nearly 30,000 Federal law enforcement officers do not receive equal status with their Federal law enforcement colleagues under current pay and retirement laws of the government they so proudly serve,” Canterbury said.

This legislation, introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), 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 legislation will also provide for savings in training costs, improve recruitment and retention of qualified officers, and enhance public safety.

“We strongly endorse the passage of this bill and applaud the efforts of Senator Mikulski on the important issue of Federal retirement,” said Canterbury.

VIII.   FOP NEWS: President Appoints FOP Member to the Federal Advisory Council

On 12 November, President Barack H. Obama, II announced the appointment of long time Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) member and Chairman of the FOP Committee on Federal Officers Louis P. Cannon as a representative to the Federal Salary Council.

National FOP President Chuck Canterbury congratulated Cannon, stating “Lou Cannon continues to be a valuable asset to the FOP, and I know he will be equally effective as a member of the Federal Salary Council.”

The Federal Salary Council is a panel that performs an important role in recommending raises for most Federal employees. The nine-member council meets at least twice a year to determine locality pay, recommend raises for the President to put in his budget, and devise a “salary gap” between Federal employees and employees in the private sector doing similar jobs.

Louis Cannon is a longtime veteran of law enforcement and the Fraternal Order of Police. Louis Cannon is the Chief of the D.C. Protective Services Police Department and Deputy Director at the city’s Department of Real Estate Services.

IX.     FOP NEWS: FOP and OnStar Team Up on Brave On Campaign

WE NEED YOUR HELP

Through the month of November, OnStar is helping the families of fallen officers by contributing money to the Fraternal Order of Police Foundation. All you need to do is click the “Like” button to like OnStar on Facebook and OnStar will donate $1.  Their goal is to raise $250,000.  As you know one of the main functions of the Foundation is to assist the families of those officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. At the annual Memorial service in Washington DC we honor those brave heroes. With the holidays quickly approaching, what better time to keep those memories going.

All you need to do to show your support is to click here: http://on.fb.me/braveon.

This is a new link that OnStar has developed that gets you right to their site. Please use it even though you may have already done so. Some of you have already shown your support but we need more help. We need our local lodges notified and their members. We know a number of them send email messages on a regular basis. Likewise we need to notify our family and friends. I told my daughter about it and she took the information to college and got a number of the students to “like” OnStar.

Once you have clicked “like” on the OnStar Facebook page, we encourage you to “Suggest to Friends”. Under the OnStar Brave On Campaign Logo in the top left hand corner of the page, click “Suggest to Friends”. Then click all of your friends and send them invitations to “Like” the OnStar Facebook page.

I would also encourage you to pass the information by word of mouth. Make copies of this message and pass it around. It cost nothing other than a few minutes of your time. Let’s take those few minutes and honor our fallen heroes.

X.      FOP NEWS: FOP Announces Support for Hoyer in Leadership Race

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, announced that the organization would be asking its friends and allies in the House to support U.S. Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) in his race to be the next House Minority Whip. The Minority Whip is the number two leadership position for the House Democrats.

“Steny Hoyer has been a friend of the FOP and a champion for law enforcement for thirty years,” Canterbury said. “He’s worked with us hand-in-hand on public safety benefits, collective bargaining, and was absolutely critical in getting S. 1132, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act Improvements Act recently.”

During the time the Democrats controlled the House, Representative Hoyer served as the House Majority Leader, the number two leadership position in the House. Representative Hoyer will face off against Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), who held the number three leadership post in the House, for the position of Minority Whip.

“We certainly intend no disrespect or slight to Representative Clyburn, who is also a strong supporter of our collective bargaining bill and many other issues important to our rank-and-file members,” Canterbury said. “But we felt it is important to stand strong for Steny Hoyer because he has, for so long and on so many things, stood strong for us.”

The leadership races for both the new majority and the minority caucuses will take place in the coming weeks.

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

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