CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Sunday, December 30, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2076, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2011. The House passed H.R. 2076 on September 12, 2012 by a recorded vote of 358 - 9 (Roll no. 699). The Senate passed the bill with an amendment by unanimous consent on December 17, 2012.
H.R. 2076 permitted only the FBI to respond. The Senate amendment reflects an agreement to allow the Attorney General to respond (i.e. to allow the Attorney General to deploy FBI, DEA, ATF and/or US Marshals) as well as to allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to respond (for the deployment of Secret Service only and ICE agents (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)).
According to House Report 112-186, “the FBI does not currently have specific statutory authority to assist in the investigation of mass killings, attempted mass killings, or other violent crimes occurring in venues such as schools, colleges, universities, non-federal office buildings, malls and/or other public places. The FBI receives requests for such assistance from State and local law enforcement, and, while this assistance is specifically requested and generally granted, there is the possibility that Federal officers could be found to be acting outside of their scope of employment.
On July 18, 2011, the FBI Agents Association, representing over 12,000 active and retired-duty agents, sent a letter of support for this legislation. Their letter stated in part: `FBI Agents have a long history of working closely with state and local law enforcement officials to investigate crimes. Unfortunately, the current statutory language granting authority to the FBI to provide investigative assistance for certain `non-federal' crimes, such as mass killings, is ambiguous and the FBI must often find indirect grants of authority in order to assist with investigations. H.R. 2076 would help clarify statutory ambiguity by explicitly granting the FBI the authority to provide investigative assistance, when requested by appropriate state or local law enforcement officials, in cases where those officials are investigating violent acts and shootings at venues such as schools, non-federal office buildings, and shopping malls. Absent this statutory change, law enforcement officials face questions about whether the FBI can appropriately provide such aid, often resulting in delay.”
According to CBO, implementing H.R. 2076 would have no significant cost to the Federal Government. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.