Washington Watch: Legislative Update

… For the Week of 29 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
VI.     FOP NEWS: National Legislative Office is Now on Facebook!

Executive Director Jim Pasco met with Robert Chaney, Senior Advisor for State, local and tribal law enforcement in the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison, to discuss issues related to Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio.

Executive Director Pasco had several discussions with the Office of Legislative Affairs in the U.S. Department of Justice on nominations.

Executive Director Pasco met with Ed Pagano, chief of staff to Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, to talk about FOP priorities for the lame duck session.

Executive Director Pasco, Senior Legislative Liaison Tim Richardson and Legislative Liaison Breanna Bock-Nielsen met with Helen Connelly, the Director of the National Training and Technical Assistance Center to discuss areas of mutual concern and cooperation.

Executive Director Pasco was in constant contact with his counterparts at the International Fire Fighters Association regarding the activity this week on S. 1611/S. 3194/S. 3991, the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act,”

Senior Legislative Liaison Richardson and Legislative Liaison Bock-Nielsen met with officers from the Labor Committee of the Department of Real Estate Services, Protective Services Police Department to discuss issues of concern to them.

The National Legislative Office would like to welcome Breanna Bock-Nielsen as our new Legislative Liaison.  Breanna comes to us from the National Sheriffs’ Association, where she spent a year on the staff of the Government Affairs Division.  She is a graduate of American University and a Masters student at AU’s School of Public Affairs.

Both the House and the Senate returned to Washington, D.C.following last week’s recess in observance of Thanksgiving. 

Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.J. Res. 101 on a 239-178 vote.  This continuing resolution will continue to fund the operation of the Federal government until 18 December 2010.  The measure moved to the Senate, which also passed the bill.

The House considered and passed H. Res. 1737, a resolution censuring censure on Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), on a 333-79 vote. 

The House considered and passed H.R. 4853, the “Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part III,” on a 234-188 vote.  Despite its name, the bill would make permanent certain tax cuts which were to have expired at the end of the year.

The House also considered and passed S. 3307, the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” on a 264-157 vote.  The bill, which would expand school meal programs and mandate improved nutrition standards in schools, will now go to the President for his signature.

Action in the Senate
The Senate considered and passed H.J. Res. 101 by unanimous consent.  This continuing resolution will continue to fund the operation of the Federal government until 18 December 2010.  The measure will now go to the President, who is expected to sign it today.

The Senate considered and passed S. 510, the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,” on a 73-25.  The legislation gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greater authority to regulate food safety.

Action in Senate Committees
The Committee on Judiciary favorably reported the nomination of Michele M. Leonhart to be the next Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration by voice vote.  The FOP strongly supports her nomination.

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, 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.

This week, Senator Reid introduced yet a third version of the legislation, S. 3199.  The FOP does not support and will oppose this measure because it would allow States to exclude Deputy Sheriffs and open the door to reducing the existing rights enjoyed by Deputies and, potentially, local police departments who might merge with Sheriff’s offices.  (See Item V. for additional information.)

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 last week and does not yet have any cosponsors.

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.     FOP NEWS: BARGAINING BILL BETRAYED: Reid Yields To Pressure from Landrieu and Weakens Bargaining Bill

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, expressed profound disappointment with a decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV), who introduced still another version of the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.”  The latest version, S. 3991, was essentially gutted, allowing Sheriffs and Sheriff’s Deputies to be exempted from the bill’s protections.

“Mary Landrieu has been working very hard for several years to undermine our efforts on this legislation,” Canterbury explained.  “She may be popular with a handful of Sheriffs in her State, but she is no friend of law enforcement.  The provision she insisted on would recognize the rights of some law enforcement officers, while denying these same rights to Sheriff’s Deputies.  This will allow Sheriffs to perpetuate their exploitation of employees who have no rights or recourse–a culture that sees its fullest expression in Louisiana.  Every at-will Deputy that loses his or her job to an unaccountable Sheriff will have Mary Landrieu to thank.”

Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) was the only Democrat in the conference whom the FOP considered unreliable on this bill.  Each time the legislation seemed headed toward consideration, Senator Landrieu would introduce amendments opposed by the FOP in an effort to weaken or nullify the bill’s impact in her home State.

“We all remember the so-called ‘Louisiana Purchase’ or $300 million dollar payoff that Senator Landrieu received in exchange for her vote in favor of the health care bill.  This is more of the same,” Canterbury said.  “I am disappointed with Senator Reid’s decision to move forward with a bill that does not serve the broad interest of rank-and-file officers and, for this reason, the law enforcement labor community cannot support.”

The Senate has three bills pending before it entitled the “Public Safety Employers-Employee Cooperation Act”: S. 1611, introduced by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and the late Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA); S. 3194, introduced by Senator Reid, and S. 3991, which was introduced yesterday without the support of the Fraternal Order of Police.  While all three bills would   recognize the fundamental right of public safety employees to form and join unions and bargain collectively with their employers over wages, hours, and working conditions, the most recent version of the bill and the one Senator Reid has agreed to move would allow Sheriffs to deny these basic rights to their Deputies.

“I expect S. 3991 to be called up sometime this week or next,” Canterbury said.  “Without the FOP’s support, I am not sure it will have enough votes to invoke cloture, so this may be a moot point in any case.”

You can read a letter National President Canterbury sent to Senator Reid here:

VI.     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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