December 31, 2012
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia: Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the Senate amendment to H.R. 2076. The House originally passed this bill in September of 2001 by an overwhelming vote.

H.R. 2076 gives the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security the specific statutory authority to respond to requests from State and local law enforcement agencies for assistance in investigation of violent acts and shootings occurring in public places and in investigations of mass killings and attempted mass killings.

The House-passed version of the bill only applied to the FBI providing assistance. The Senate amended the bill to include all DOJ and Department of Homeland Security law enforcement agencies. Therefore, under the version of the bill before the House today, the Department of Justice's agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, Marshal Service and ATF, would be able to provide assistance, as would the Department of Homeland Security's law enforcement agencies, such as Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, if requested by local and State law enforcement agencies.

These Federal agencies do not currently have the specific statutory authority to assist in the investigations of mass killings or attempted mass killings occurring in venues such as schools, colleges, universities, non-Federal office buildings, malls and/or other public places.

In particular, while the FBI continues to receive requests for such assistance from State and local law enforcement, and the FBI often does assist in such circumstances, there is presently technically no Federal statute that directly provides jurisdiction to the FBI to respond to such requests. Legislation granting the proposed investigative authority would allow these Federal agencies to provide State and local law enforcement with the assistance, if requested, even when the violent act does not technically violate a Federal law.

Unfortunately, due to the tragic shooting and killing of 20 students and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, the consideration of this bill is timely. Of course, we should pass the bill today so that the President may sign it into law. But, Madam Speaker, while we must take steps to assist in the investigation of such incidents, it is even more critical that we prevent them from occurring in the first place. Proposals to do that include not only legislation involving gun safety, but also legislation such as the Youth Promise Act, which would provide funding for comprehensive juvenile justice initiatives, or additional funding for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant, or the Campus Safety Act, which are all pending, as well as increased funding for mental health services and school counselors.

We simply must do all we can to protect our citizens, and these proposals must be enacted as soon as possible. But with respect to H.R. 2076, the bill before us today, I want to commend the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Gowdy) for his leadership on this bill and urge my colleagues to support the Senate amendment to H.R. 2076.