By Meredith Ward, Legislative Representative, IACP
n January 5, the 112th U.S. Congress officially kicked off, and the new members were sworn in. In the House of Representatives, Republicans hold the majority with 242 members; Democrats have 193 House members. In the Senate, Democrats hold the majority with 53 members (including 2 independent members who caucus with Democrats); and Republicans have 47 members.
The two committees in each chamber that are most pertinent to the law enforcement community are the Homeland Security and the Judiciary committees. In the House, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, while Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is now the ranking member. In the Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) remains chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) remains the ranking member.
In the House, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is the new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, while Rep. Bennie Thompson (R-MS) is now the ranking member. For the Senate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) remain chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmen-tal Affairs.
President Signs Continuing Resolution
In late December, President Obama signed a continuing resolution (CR)—where programs are funded at the lowest current levels—into law. A CR is a stopgap funding measure that is passed for a short period of time to give lawmakers additional time to work on a final measure. The CR will keep the federal government operating through March 4, 2011.
The CR includes funding levels for the primary law enforcement assistance grants administered through the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Funding for these grants follows:
- $511 million for Byrne JAG
- $298 million for COPS hiring
- $652.5 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSG)
- $646.25 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)
- $459.25 million for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP)
IACP Applauds Senate Confirmation of Michele M. Leonhart to Lead DEA
On December 22, the Senate unanimously voted to confirm Michele M. Leonhart to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Leonhart is the 10th administrator of the DEA and the first female special agent to rise through the ranks of the DEA to become administrator. Leonhart is also the first career female federal agent to ever lead a federal law enforcement agency.
The IACP supported Leonhart’s nomination in 2008 by former President George W. Bush and in January 2010 when she was nominated by President Barack Obama. The IACP’s strong support of her nomination is based on her 30 years of service as a law enforcement official, where she has acquired a broad base of experience that gives her a unique perspective on narcotics issues. After serving with the Baltimore, Maryland, Police Department, Leonhart joined the DEA in 1980, first stationed in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In numerous public statements, the IACP has praised Leonhart and described her confirmation as a step that will truly enhance the effectiveness of the nation’s drug-fighting efforts.
President Signs 9/11 Health Benefits Bill for First Responders
In early January, President Obama signed legislation that will provide health care and compensation to first responders and others exposed to toxic material at Ground Zero after 9/11. The bill authorizes $1.5 billion over five years to treat those with health conditions that resulted from exposure to toxic dust and other materials at the sites of the attacks or during debris removal. Specifically, the bill
- provides medical monitoring and treatment to World Trade Center (WTC) responders and survivors (for example, area workers, residents, and students) who were exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero;
- builds on the existing monitoring and treatment program by delivering expert medical treatment for these unique exposures at top-notch medical facilities;
- reopens the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide compensation for economic losses and harm as an alternative to the current litigation system; and
- provides liability protections for the WTC contractors and New York City. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "112th U.S. Congress Officially Starts," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 78 (February 2011): 8.