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Tag: U.S. House

House Bill Would Provide Major Pay Increase for TSA Screeners

By Steve Neavling

TSA screeners could receive an average 30% pay increase, along with benefits and due process protections that most other federal employees receive, under a bill passed by the U.S. House last week.

Since the creation of the TSA after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, TSA employees “have been part of a siloed personnel system, where they do not receive regular raises like most other federal workers and lack due process and whistleblower protections,” Government Executive reports.

That would change under the Rights of the TSA Workforce Act, which passed in the House with a 220-201 vote. 

“The most recent analysis done on turnover shows that over a two-year span, one in three transportation security officers quit,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who introduced the bill, said on the House floor. “It also revealed that in a single year, TSA spent $16 million to hire and onboard nearly 2,000 people, who left just months after they got the job. This revolving door of recruiting, training and then losing TSOs is unsustainable and underscores the need to find a permanent solution that will ensure TSA lives up to its critical national security mission.”

A vast majority of Republicans voted against the bill, which now goes to the Senate for a vote. 

Republicans Push to Move Secret Service Back to Treasury Department

By Steve Neavling

The Secret Service, which has been a part of the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, could return to the Treasury Department if Republicans get their way.

The Secret Service was a part of the Treasury Department until it moved to the Department of Homeland Security. 

Reps. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and David Kustoff, R-Tenn., introduced a bill last week that would move the Secret Service back to the Treasury Department, Government Executive reports.

“The Department of the Treasury is a better fit for the Secret Service, as the main responsibility of the agency is to combat financial crimes and counter critical criminal threats to the U.S. financial systems,” Kustoff said in a press release on Tuesday. “Returning the Secret Service to the U.S. Treasury will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its investigations and bolster its capability to combat illicit finance and cybercrime.” 

In a statement to Government Executive, Williams said, “Transferring them from the Department of Homeland security  to the Treasury Department would help fulfill their mission of protecting our nation from the ever-changing threats to our financial system.” Moreover, “this strategic realignment will bolster coordination between the two agencies and increase their capabilities to investigate and combat financial crimes.”

The Secret Service did not comment on the bill. 

The move would need legislative approval. 

U.S. House Democrats Urge TSA to Crack Down on Passengers Carrying Firearms After Cawthorn Incident

By Steve Neavling

Democrats in the U.S. House are asking the TSA to crack down on passengers carrying firearms at airports following an incident involving Rep. Madison Cawthorn. 

The North Carolina Republican was cited earlier this week for carrying a loaded gun in a bag at a checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. It was his second offense.

In a letter to TSA Administrator David P. Pekoske, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman D-N.J., chairwoman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation and maritime security, said they are concerned about the escalating number of guns being seized at airport checkpoints, The Washington Post reports.

The TSA confiscated a record number of guns in 2021.

The lawmakers urged the agency to “act decisively to ensure repeat offenders … face the full extent of TSA’s enforcement actions.”

The TSA confiscated Cawthorn’s pistol on Tuesday and cited him for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property before releasing him. 

“The bipartisan support in the hearing and for the legislation indicates that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle agree that those who break the law and endanger the safety of other passengers — and especially repeat offenders such as Rep. Cawthorn — must be held to account,” the lawmakers wrote.

McCarthy Warns of Possible Impeachment of Mayorkas over Immigration

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans may try to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

McCarthy made the statement Monday during a visit to the southern border, The Hill reports

“This is his moment in time to do his job,” McCarthy said. “But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody.”

Mayorkas is scheduled to testify before the House on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Republicans are opposed to lifting Title 42, which has allowed the U.S. to deny asylum-seekers a hearing.

The Biden administration said it plans to lift Title 42 on May 23. 

Mayoraka’s “first response to us should be, ‘We should not lift Title 42,’ ” McCarthy said. “They’re not prepared to protect, and we cannot sustain what will happen to this nation.” 

Although Democrats have a slim majority in the House, that could change in the November mid-terms, which would make impeachment far more likely. 

Bill to Rename Border Patrol Station in Honor of Fallen Agent Passes U.S. House

Fallen Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss.

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. House passed a bill that would rename the Border Patrol station in Rocksprings, Texas, in honor of fallen Agent Donna Doss. 

The bill, called the Donna M. Doss Memorial Act, would rename the station the Donna M. Doss Border Patrol Station. 

Doss, a 15-year-veteran of Border Patrol, was responding to a call for assistance when she was struck and killed by a vehicle in Abilene on Feb. 2, 2019.

“Donna Doss valiantly served our country as a Border Patrol Agent for nearly 16 years and was tragically killed in the line of duty in 2019,” Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, said in a statement. “Like many of her colleagues in law enforcement, Donna Doss is a hero for her courageous service to our country and sacrificed for her fellow man.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, first introduced the bill in September 2020. He also honored Doss on the Senate floor following her death.

 “Officers like Agent Doss who are lost in the line of duty remind us of the courageous sacrifices that law enforcement, and their families, make each day,” Cornyn said.“Known for her commitment to public safety and her family, I’m proud to see that Agent Doss’ legacy of service to Texas will live on at the Border Patrol Station in Rocksprings in her honor.”

Rep. Tony Gonzalez, R-Texas, added, “Her death is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices our men and women in green – and their families – make every day. I am proud to have her legacy live on in our district by renaming the Rocksprings Border Patrol station in her honor.”

Congressional Democrats Call for Investigation into Secretive Border Patrol Teams

By Steve Neavling

Democrats in Congress are urging Biden’s administration to examine secretive teams within Border Patrol that conduct internal investigations into misconduct by agents. 

In a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro on Monday, 10 committee and subcommittee chairs in the House and Senate are requesting a review of the units, The New York Times reports.

The House Committees on Homeland Security and Oversight also are conducting their own joint investigations into the critical incident teams. 

“We have grave concerns about the lack of transparency in the role of Border Patrol’s critical incident teams,” the leaders of the committees, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, of N.Y., and Bennie Thompson, of Miss., wrote to new CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus

They requested documents by Feb. 7. 

“Despite the apparent lack of authority to investigate agent misconduct, Border Patrol appears to have created special teams of agents to investigate and collect evidence following incidents that may create criminal or civil liability, including allegations of excessive use of force,” they wrote.

Bannon Surrenders to FBI After Being Indicted for Defying Congressional Subpoena

Steve Bannon moments before surrendering to the FBI. Photo: Screenshot of his live-streamed video.

By Steve Neavling

Steve Bannon, a onetime top advisor to former President Trump, turned himself in to the FBI after he was indicted last week for defying a congressional subpoena to provide information to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

Bannon, a 67-year-old right-wing media personality, surrendered at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. In a live-streamed video moment earlier, Bannon was defiant.

“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball of what we do every day,” Bannon said before surrendering. “We got the Hispanics coming on our side, African Americans coming on our side; we’re taking down the Biden regime.” 

“I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message,” he said. “Remember, signal not noise.”

A grand jury indicted Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress. He faces up to one year of jail on each count. 

“As detailed in the indictment, on Sept. 23, 2021, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. Bannon,” Matthew M. Graves, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement. “The subpoena required him to appear and produce documents to the Select Committee, and to appear for a deposition before the Select Committee. According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena.”

Arraignment has not yet been scheduled. 

As Vaccine Deadline Looms, Some Lawmakers Want an Exemption for Border Patrol Agents to Avoid Mass Exodus

Border Patrol agent. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

With less than a month before all federal employees must be vaccinated, some lawmakers are calling for an exemption for Border Patrol agents, saying national security is at stake. 

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzalez, R-Texas, wrote a letter, cosigned by 43 other Republican lawmakers, that calls on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to avoid enforcing the vaccine mandate to prevent a mass exodus of agents and other CBP employees.

“Our men and women in the Border Patrol have worked tirelessly to manage the crisis at our southern border,” the letter states. “This year especially, they have been subject to extraordinary amounts of mental and physical stress. With morale at an all-time low, this mandate will serve as the last straw for agents who can easily leave the agency for other law enforcement organizations at the state and local level or retire.”

President Biden’s mandate requires all federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22.  

“As a (Homeland Security) federal employee, you must be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021, unless you have received or have requested an exemption for religious or medical reasons,” the DHS website states. “All DHS federal employees, including those who seek an exemption from the vaccination requirement for religious or medical reasons, must provide their vaccination status, upload proof of vaccination and certify the truthfulness of your vaccination status and proof.”

The mandate comes at a time when a record number of migrants are crossing the border. 

Meanwhile, retired Border Patrol Agent Juan Garcia, who worked in the El Centro and Yuma sectors, died from COVID-19 complications, KYMA reports.

“Agent Juan Garcia was a strong, quiet man who would sacrifice his life for his fellow agents and citizens at a moment’s notice and without hesitation,” Border Patrol said in a statement. “He served his country and community by taking on the sometimes thankless job of protecting the U.S. border.”