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Tag: Congress

Secret Service Director to Face Tough Questions Today Following More Problems

Joe Clancy

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Not many people want to be in Joe Clancy’s shoes.

The longtime agent that President Obama recently appointed to lead the beleaguered Secret Service will face tough questions from lawmakers today over the latest embarrassment to hit the agency.

Clancy is scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations Committee for a hearing on the budget, but he’s likely to be grilled over the agency’s failure to stop avoidable security lapses and alcohol consumption among agents, CNN reports.

The former director, Julia Pierson, lost her job allowing a fence-jumping at the White House.

Recently, two top-ranking Secret Service officials are accused of being drunk and causing a disruption at a White House command post and an investigation of a potential explosive device.

Other Stories of Interest


Transportation Security Officers Closer to Working Without Paychecks

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If Congress doesn’t fund Homeland Security by Friday, transportation security officers will be forced to go to work without pay.

NPR reports that officers won’t get paid until lawmakers find a way to fund the department amid a budget showdown with President Obama over his immigration plan. http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/02/23/388338500/for-tsa-officers-congress-inaction-on-funding-could-hit-home

DHS employees who are considered essential for “the safety of human life and protection of property” are required to work even during a shutdown. And that is most DHS employees.

“Look at the last shutdown. I think 85, 90 percent of all of the DHS workers were declared ‘essential,’ and came to work and they all got their paychecks,” said House Republican Matt Salmon of Arizona.

Other Stories of Interest


FBI May Lose Critical Surveillance Abilities Because of NSA Controversy

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s ability to covertly collect “books, papers, documents, and other items” with a court order is at risk.

The Washington Times reports that the Section 215 of the Patriot Act is set to expire in June, and it’s unclear whether lawmakers will “renew it, reform it or let it expire.”

Although the surveillance has helped the FBI track down suspects, Section 215 has become highly controversial because it gave the NSA legal authority to collect phone records on American citizens.

Some lawmakers said it’s critical to allow the FBI to collect the records.

“Law enforcement officials often use Section 215 to obtain necessary individual business records, such as hotel records, in connection with national security investigations,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the SenateJudiciary Committee, said in a statement to The Washington Times. “It’s a useful tool that helps them investigate potential threats to national security.”

The FBI declined to comment.

 

Secret Service Agents Spent Average of Just 25 Minutes Training in 2014

secret service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One reason the Secret Service is making so many embarrassing blunders may have something to do with the lack of training.

The Fiscal Times reports that the Secret Service’s uniformed officers trained for an average of just 25 minutes in fiscal 2013, a significant decline over previous years

The Secret Service typically sent special agents to eight training classes a year. Now agents are lucky to take a class, the an independent panel investigating the agency told Congress last week.

The panelists suggested that the Secret Service hire 200 new uniformed officers and 85 special agents, which would mark a 4.5% increase in the overall workforce.

“No organization is perfect,” said Mark Filip, one of the panelists. “It’s not a weakness to acknowledge there are problems. Accept them and move forward.”

Other Stories of Interest


Republicans in Congress Reach Impasse on Funding for Homeland Security

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security is within two months of running out of money, and Republican Congressional leaders acknowledge they don’t have the votes for their budget plan for the department.

The New York Times reports that Republicans have reached an impasse after failing three times to pass a bill to finance Homeland Security.

“I think it’s clearly stuck in the Senate,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “We can’t get on it, we can’t offer amendments to it. And the next step is obviously up to the House.”

 

The budget impasse follows attempts by the GOP to prevent President Obama from carrying out his immigration policies.

GOP leaders said the Republican have not started working on an alternative.

Homeland Security Chief Warns of 30,000 Furloughs If Congress Doesn’t Reach Funding Pact

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If Congress fails to reach a funding agreement by the end of February, Homeland Security will furlough at least 30,000 workers in what could have far-reaching ramifications, the department’s head, Jeh Johnson, said.

The Huffington Post reports that Johnson is stepping up his rhetoric in the face of a potential DHS shutdown.

“This is not a situation to make light of,” Johnson told CNN. “In these challenging times we need a fully funded Department of Homeland Security.”

Johnson said FEMA would furlough about 80% of its employees.

“I am on Capitol Hill now virtually every working day talking to Democrats and Republicans about the importance of a fully funded Department of Homeland Security in these times in particular,” said Johnson. “Let’s not forget that the Department of Homeland Security interfaces with the American public more than any other department in our government at airports and at ports.”

Other Stories of Interest

Secret Service Unable to Make Reforms, Hire New Agents Because of Budget Impasse

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Congressional dispute over Homeland Security’s budget means the Secret Service cannot hire new agents or reform the beleaguered agency until the impasse is over, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, Reuters reports.

Johnson expressed deep concerns about the impasse, saying a lot is at stake – the security of borders, airports and coastal waters.

The agency’s spending authority ends Feb. 27, and Republicans are showing no signs of backing down until they block President Obama’s executive orders that would protect about 5 million undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.

“This means we cannot invest in the things the independent panel recommended to improve the Secret Service; we cannot hire new Secret Service agents for the coming presidential election cycle,” Johnson said of the budget uncertainty.

Other Stories of Interest

Newsday Editorial: Now Is No Time to Play Political Games with Homeland Security

By Newsday
Editorial Board

The massacre in Paris last week by homegrown French terrorists and the ensuing dragnet to find those responsible have dramatically underscored the need for unstinting vigilance to keep the United States safe. But the Department of Homeland Security will run out of money by the end of next month if additional funding is not approved. Congress must not let that happen.

Republicans insisted on that short leash for the department in December when the lame-duck Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the rest of the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The GOP wanted to hold the Department of Homeland Security hostage as leverage to block President Barack Obama’s executive orders allowing temporary legal status for 5 million immigrants in the country illegally. The short-term funding ensured Congress would revisit the volatile immigration issue after November’s election, when many expected the Republicans to win control of the Senate.

But the violent carnage that claimed at least 17 victims in France last week has the American public on edge about the threat of homegrown terrorism in this country. People who feel vulnerable won’t look kindly on a party threatening to cripple the department whose job is to keep them safe.

So congressional Republicans are looking for a way to thread the needle. They want to withhold funding for Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is in the Department of Homeland Security, without defunding the entire department. It won’t be easy.

To read more click here.