WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today issued the following statement on the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s report regarding sexual misconduct and harassment allegations at four federal law enforcement agencies. Among its findings, the report found that several Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Cartagena, Colombia while Colombian police officers watched their weapons and property. These actions were discovered during a series of interviews conducted by the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility from 2009 through 2010.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Once again, some federal law enforcement agents are acting like they belong in a college frat house rather than at a taxpayer-funded law enforcement agency tasked with interdicting illegal drugs. It’s extremely troubling that federal drug agents lacked the common sense to know that engaging with prostitutes hired by drug cartels was a bad idea. Not only is this risky behavior unacceptable and unbecoming of federal law enforcement officers, it could also have compromised the agents’ mission. We must ensure that everyone involved is appropriately held accountable for their actions.
“The House Judiciary Committee will continue its aggressive oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration, including further investigating this matter and keeping a watchful eye on the behavior of all its employees. The wild and reckless conduct exhibited by some federal law enforcement officers must stop.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) today introduced the Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015 (H.R. 1656) to reform the United States Secret Service. Over the past few years, a series of scandals and failures have rocked the Secret Service, ranging from the agents’ use of prostitutes while on official presidential travel to Colombia, to the agency’s failure to initially apprehend a fence-jumper who later was arrested deep into the White House residence, to the most recent incident where two agents allegedly drove while intoxicated into an active bomb investigation outside of the White House.
The bipartisan legislation introduced today implements many of the U.S. Secret Service Protective Mission Panel’s recommendations for improvements at the agency. It strengthens the security of the President, protectees, and the White House complex; enhances Secret Service agents’ training; and improves transparency and accountability at the agency. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is also an original cosponsor.
Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte issued the following statement on the introduction of this bill.
Chairman Goodlatte: “The Secret Service is comprised of many outstanding, and upstanding, men and women who do excellent work every day. However, after a series of embarrassing security failures and instances of poor judgement, the American people have lost confidence in the Secret Service’s ability to protect the President from threats from outside entities and from within the agency itself. The Secret Service needs to ensure its agents are properly trained so that they can successfully identify and prevent threats from materializing, and also needs to crack down on the wild and reckless behavior exhibited by some agents. While Director Clancy has taken many steps to begin to reform the Secret Service, it’s clear that legislative action is needed.
“The Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015 provides much needed resources to the Secret Service that enhance agents’ training, strengthen security at the White House, and improve transparency and accountability at the agency. This legislation also requires Senate confirmation of the Director of the Secret Service. It defies logic that the person we entrust to not just protect the President, but to also head a $1.5 billion federal law enforcement agency, is not subject to the same process of advice and consent as his counterparts at other comparable agencies. Collectively, these resources and changes will help reform the Secret Service and restore it as a sterling law enforcement agency.”
Key Components of the Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015:
• Clarifies that it is a federal crime to knowingly cause, with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, any object to enter restricted buildings or grounds, including the White House and the Vice President’s residence.
• Requires the Secret Service to evaluate the use of additional weaponry, including non-lethal weapons.
• Amends current law to permit the Secret Service to investigate threats against former Vice Presidents.
• Requires the Secret Service to devise and implement procedures for evaluating threats to the White House and its protectees, including threats from drones and explosives, and to report to Congress its findings.
• Requires the Secret Service to evaluate its technology at the White House, including ways that technology can be used to improve safety at the White House.
• Requires the Secret Service to evaluate how it retains evidence and to report its findings to Congress.
Enhances Agents’ Training and Increases Manpower
• Directs the Secret Service to increase the number of hours spent training, and directs them to provide joint training between Uniformed Division officers and Special Agents.
• Authorizes the hiring of no fewer than 200 additional Uniformed Division officers and 80 additional special agents.
Improves Transparency and Accountability
• Requires the Director of the U.S. Secret Service to be Senate confirmed.
• Contains a Sense of Congress that determinations by the Department of Homeland Security or the Secret Service regarding changes to the White House itself for protection reasons should be given significant deference with the many entities that have a role in approving such changes, including the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Goodlatte released the following statement on today’s budget votes in the U.S. House of Representatives:
“An opportunity economy starts with a budget that leads to balance. Today, I voted in support of a budget plan that will help build a stronger America by balancing the budget, making real efforts to reduce the deficit, and repealing Obamacare. Unlike the President’s budget, which would never balance, this budget leads to balance and holds the federal government accountable to the taxpayers. It also embraces the policies I have put forth on tax reform and encourages passage of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“As I have done in the past, I also cast my vote for the tightest, most fiscally responsible budget offered. The Republican Study Committee’s budget alternative would balance in just six years. This budget included references to several bills I have introduced, including: the Tax Code Termination Act (H.R. 27) and a recommendation that the House enact this legislation as part of pro-growth, pro-taxpayer reforms to the tax code; the RFS Elimination Act (H.R. 703) to repeal the ethanol mandate; and, H. Res. 26 expressing opposition to the Obama Administration’s college ratings system. Unfortunately, this budget alternative did not pass.
“There is no doubt that Congress must act to rein in federal spending. Without a budget that balances, there is no end to the spending that will saddle future generations with perpetual debt. Addressing the serious challenges faced by our nation demands bold proposals, and I would encourage the House and Senate to work together to get spending under control now. The budget blueprint passed today is just a step forward in ensuring a healthy American economy that encourages job creation now and for generations to come.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 15-11 the Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act of 2015 (H.R. 348). This bill, sponsored by Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), streamlines the approval process for federally-funded and federally-permitted infrastructure, energy and other construction projects and delivers faster approvals.
The RAPID Act recognizes that delay and uncertainty in the process for new construction and infrastructure projects, undermines job creation, and economic growth for hardworking Americans.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised today’s Committee vote.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Our country’s burdensome and time-consuming regulatory process only adds to the American people’s frustration with the federal government. Bureaucratic red tape slows the permit approval process for infrastructure investment, and continues to be a barrier for many Americans who look to these jobs for stable employment.
“The RAPID Act would bring accountability and expediency to the permit approval process by setting hard deadlines, instituting oversight on those who control the process, and cracking down on costly and time-consuming lawsuits.
“This legislation will be an open door for the American people who are looking for work in challenging economic times. The RAPID Act is a concrete mechanism that would act as a job creator for Americans across the country, to the effect of 1.9 million jobs annually during construction of the projects, and hundreds of thousands of jobs every year following the completion of the projects.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today issued the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General’s report, which found that Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas allegedly exerted improper influence in the processing and approval of EB-5 immigration program benefits. The EB-5 program gives residency preference to aliens who agree to invest in the United States and create jobs for American workers.
Chairman Goodlatte: “It’s extremely troubling that one of the top leaders at the Department of Homeland Security seems to have used his power to show favoritism to wealthy and politically-connected individuals. Our government is supposed to work for all of the American people, not just a select few. Such an abuse of authority is inexcusable and creates a crisis of confidence in Deputy Director Mayorkas’ ability to lead the Department impartially. President Obama should take the appropriate steps to hold him accountable for his actions. The House Judiciary Committee, which oversees our nation’s immigration system, will continue its aggressive oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, including further investigating this matter and keeping a watchful eye on all of its employees to ensure they do not abuse their authority.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (H.R. 889) by a voice vote.
Through a change in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, this legislation bolsters the ability of U.S. museums and schools to borrow foreign government-owned artifacts and artwork from other cultures around the world.
The legislation would encourage governments to loan many of their most treasured pieces of art and artifacts for public viewing in the United States. This goodwill partnership between nations of the world would allow for U.S. institutions to feature major pieces from around the world, while assuring foreign governments that their loans would not subject them to litigation in U.S. courts.
A bIpartisan group of lawmakers passed similar legislation during the previous two Congresses, but the United States Senate did not take up the bill prior to the end of those Congresses.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), bill sponsor Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), and co-sponsors House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Congressman and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) praised the continued bipartisan support for the legislation, and the committee’s approval of the bill once again:
“Federal courts have interpreted statutes to deny some of America’s top museums and universities the prospect of borrowing some of the greatest artifacts in history from foreign governments. The House Judiciary Committee has once again shown that there is bipartisan consensus around removing the barriers that could deny these pieces of art to some of the greatest institutions in the United States. Actions taken today by the Committee reaffirm our country’s strong commitment to cultural exchange and appreciation for the arts, while also recognizing the importance of ensuring that victims of Nazi art theft still have the opportunity to pursue justice."
Background: Currently, court decisions interpreting the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) discourage foreign governments from lending government-owned artwork and objects of cultural significance to U.S. museums and schools for temporary exhibit or display. Foreign governments are discouraged by the possibility of litigation in U.S. courts from which they would otherwise be immune. As a result, the ability of U.S. museums and schools to borrow works of art and objects of cultural significance owned by foreign governments has been seriously curtailed in recent years. The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act fixes this problem by making a narrowly-tailored change to FSIA. This change will make it easier for U.S. museums and educational institutions to borrow works of art and other objects from abroad, increasing Americans’ opportunities for cultural and educational development. This bill also contains an exception for cultural property taken during the Nazi era.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee approved the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act of 2015 (H.R. 1155) by a vote of 17-12. Congressman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) is the chief sponsor of the bill.
The bill seeks to establish a blue-ribbon review committee to provide Congress with recommendations for the elimination of obsolete or unnecessary regulations that are costly to the American people. The goal of the SCRUB Act is to achieve a fifteen percent reduction in the overall cost of current federal regulation, with minimal reduction in federal regulatory effectiveness.
According to a recent estimate, the federal regulatory burden has reached $1.86 trillion, which adds up to approximately $15,000 annually per U.S. household. The same study concluded that Americans worked an estimated 77 days per year to cover the cost of federal regulations that are a burden on families and businesses large and small.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised today’s Committee vote.
Chairman Goodlatte: “The regulatory burdens being imposed by the federal government are constantly being passed along to the American people. The SCRUB Act is a solution to eliminate regulation that has done its job and no longer serves a legitimate purpose. It is my hope that reform of the regulatory system of the United States will reduce the amount of money that every taxpayer must sacrifice over to the federal government every year, and that employers can hire additional workers and expand operations, rather than be forced to comply with outdated regulations that should not even still be on the books.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the announcement of the resignation of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director B. Todd Jones, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement:
“Nearly four years ago, Director Jones was tasked to lead an embattled agency marred by controversy over the Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation. Under his leadership, many of those responsible for Fast and Furious never faced any consequences for their actions. We may never know the full scope of the fallout because of the administration’s questionable claim of executive privilege relating to Fast and Furious documents. Jones was also the director when ATF conducted a series of disastrous store front sting operations where individuals with mental impairment were possibly exploited by ATF agents among other questionable tactics.
“Unfortunately, Director Jones’s exit comes after yet another controversy involving plans to ban one of the most popular ammunition rounds for sportsmen. While the plan to ban the ammunition was scrapped due in part to a letter I led and signed by 239 bipartisan members of Congress, it is clear the ATF needs a change in leadership to repair its tarnished image.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing outrage over rampant fraud in the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program. A recent investigative report, conducted by News 4 in New York, uncovered an orchestrated scam where people – up to twenty years of age – are fraudulently claiming that their parents abandoned, abused, or neglected them in order to be placed on a fast-track to a green card. In the letter, Chairman Goodlatte demands the Department of Homeland Security provide answers about the steps they will take to rid the Special Immigrant Juvenile program of this kind of fraud and abuse.
Below is the text of the letter. The signed letter can be found here.
Dear Secretary Johnson,
I write regarding the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program. As you know, this program was created in order to offer protection to foreign national children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parent or parents.
The investigative reporting team at the News 4 New York, NBC affiliate recently conducted an investigation into abuse of the SIJ program. The abuse detailed by the reporting team revealed an apparent conspiracy to commit fraud in order to obtain SIJs. What they found is disturbing to say the least. The March 4, 2015, investigative story can be found at the following link: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/family-court-queens-immigration-cases-human-smuggling-green-card-295050931.html.
In light of your stated commitment to preventing fraud and abuse in U.S. immigration benefit programs, I request that you watch the entire video and answer the following questions:
1. What immediate steps will you take to ensure that fraudulent SIJ petitions are not approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicators?
2. What long term changes will you make to the adjudications process and policies to ensure that fraudulent SIJ petitions are not approved by USCIS adjudicators?
3. How exactly will you coordinate with state courts to ensure that abuse, abandonment or neglect is not found by these courts when there is evidence of fraudulent claims?
4. What, if any, statutory changes do you suggest to give you additional tools to ensure that fraudulent SIJ petitions are not approved by USCIS adjudicators?
5. In addition, I request that you immediately direct the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate at USCIS to conduct a Benefit Fraud Assessment of the current SIJ program and to determine what steps can be taken to prevent fraud in the program.
Please provide, by April 2, 2015, your substantive response addressing all of the questions and concerns raised above. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 21-12 the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 1153). This bill, authored by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), strengthens asylum standards to prevent the Obama Administration’s rubberstamping of fraudulent claims, effectively ends “catch and release,” and prevents American taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for unlawful immigrants’ lawyers.
Although an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report shows that at least 70% of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud, the Obama Administration has set records for approving claims. During the initial asylum screening process in which aliens have to demonstrate a “credible fear” of persecution in their home countries, federal immigration officers approved 92% and 80% of these claims in Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, respectively. While awaiting an immigration hearing, they are released into the U.S. and receive work authorization while their case is pending. Additionally, in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2015, roughly 60% of unaccompanied alien minors’ asylum applications have been immediately approved by asylum officers.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised today’s Committee vote.
Chairman Goodlatte: “President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement has created disorder at our southern border. There has been an explosion of asylum claims, many of which are fraudulent and baseless, as word has spread around the world that the Obama Administration virtually rubberstamps asylum applications and releases asylum seekers into the United States before their claims are proved valid. Since the Obama Administration has not effectively curbed fraud and abuse in the asylum system, this has dramatically encouraged more illegal border crossings.
“Congressman Chaffetz’s bill, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, closes loopholes in our immigration system that enable false asylum claims and ends many of the Obama Administration’s policies that encourage illegal immigration. In doing so, the bill restores the integrity of our immigration system so that it works better for our country and those truly persecuted in their home countries.”
Key Components of the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act:
• Credible Fear: We must fix the very minimal standard under current law that allows an alien apprehended at the border to show a “credible fear of persecution” and then generally be released into our communities while their asylum claim goes through the very lengthy immigration court process. During Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved 92% and 80% of credible fear claims, respectively – many of which were fraudulent and baseless. The result has been an explosion of claims as word has gotten out of the virtual rubberstamping of applications. The bill tightens the standard aliens have to meet in order to curtail fraud.
• Immigration Parole Reform: The parole statute allows DHS to bring into the U.S. otherwise inadmissible aliens and release detained aliens – but only in very narrow circumstances. The Obama Administration has abused this program – going well beyond the intent of Congress – to admit entire classes of aliens and release large numbers of detained aliens. In order to end this abuse, the bill specifies the precise instances in which parole can be used. A prime benefit of this provision will be to end the “catch and release” of many aliens apprehended at the border who claim a credible fear of persecution.
• HHS/DHS Information Sharing: The bill forces the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to cooperate with DHS in the removal process, such as by informing DHS as to the location of alien minors who are or have been in its custody.
• No Taxpayer Funded Attorneys: The Administration wants taxpayers to foot the bill (to the tune of $50 million) for lawyers for unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs) in removal proceedings. While the Immigration and Nationality Act has long prohibited taxpayer-funded attorneys for aliens in removal proceedings, the bill makes the prohibition more explicit to forestall the Administration’s plans.
• Definition of Unaccompanied Alien Minor: The bill clarifies that an alien is not considered a UAM if certain immediate relatives (in addition to parents and guardians) are available to provide for their care and assume physical custody.
• Safe Third Countries: The bill grants DHS the power to remove asylum seekers to safe third countries where they would have access to a full and fair procedure for applying for asylum without the current necessity for bilateral agreements with those countries. This would allow the return of apprehended Central Americans to Mexico where they could apply for asylum.
• Termination of Asylum Status: The bill requires termination of asylum status where an asylee returns to their home country from which they sought asylum, absent changed circumstances or a change in country conditions.
Learn more about the House Judiciary Committee’s work on immigration here.Read More
2309 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives.
Bob’s service to the people of the Sixth District began in 1977 when he became District Director for former Congressman Caldwell Butler. He served in this position for two years until 1979, and was responsible for helping folks across the District seeking assistance with or encountering problems from various federal agencies. In 1979, he founded his own private law practice in Roanoke. Later, he was a partner in the law firm of Bird, Kinder and Huffman, working there from 1981 until taking office.
In the 113th Congress, Bob was elected to serve as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He is the first Judiciary Committee Chairman from Virginia in the last 125 years. Bob has been an active Member of the Judiciary Committee since arriving in Congress, serving in a variety of leadership positions on the Committee including Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet in the 112th Congress, Vice Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member of the Task Force on Judicial Impeachment in the 111th Congress, Ranking Member of the Antitrust Task Force in the 110th Congress, and Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property in the 109th Congress. Additionally, Bob also served on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
The House Judiciary Committee will certainly be at the forefront of some of the most significant issues facing Virginia and the Sixth District, including protecting Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties, oversight of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, legal and regulatory reform, innovation, competition and anti-trust laws, terrorism and crime, and immigration reform. It is likely that many of these issues will be the deciding factors in determining the future direction of our nation. The jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee is well-suited to many of Bob’s legislative priorities such as protecting Constitutional rights, including private property and Second Amendment rights, securing our borders through immigration reform, strengthening our criminal laws, decreasing health care costs through medical malpractice reform, and oversight of the Judicial branch and Administration. One of Bob’s top legislative initiatives is his Constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget so that Congress will be forced to control spending. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over all proposed amendments to the Constitution.
In addition to serving on the House Judiciary Committee, Bob serves on the House Agriculture Committee. He is a member of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, which is of particular importance to the Sixth District since it is one of the leading turkey and poultry producing districts in the nation. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Nutrition. Bob has served the Agriculture Committee in a variety of leadership roles including Chairman of the Agriculture Committee (2003-2007), Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee (2007-2008), Vice Chairman of the Agriculture Committee (2011-2012), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry (1997-2003), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research (2009-2010).
During his time in Congress, Bob has made a name for himself as a leader on Internet and high-tech issues. He is Co-Chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus as well as Chairman of the House Republican Technology Working Group.
Bob is a graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law, and his undergraduate degree in Government was earned at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He resides in Roanoke with his wife, Maryellen. He and Maryellen have been married since 1974 and have two adult children, Jennifer and Rob.
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Spoke to CBS News after learning of serious misconduct by DEA agents in Colombia. When they screw up, what actions are being taken to hold them
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