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Tag: U.S. House

House Considers Bill to Limit When FBI Can Collect Web-Browsing History without a Warrant

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The U.S. House of Representatives appears to have a reached a compromise on a bill that would limit when the FBI can collect records on Americans’ internet browsing histories without a judge’s warrant.

Two California Democrats, Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Adam B. Schiff, reached a tentative agreement to limit the FBI’s ability to collect the data during national security investigations, The New York Times reports.

The House may vote on the proposal this week. The bill would still need approval from the Senate.

Details of the proposal weren’t immediately clear. The New York Times wrote:

The text of the compromise amendment was not yet public, but congressional aides said that the proposal essentially limits to Americans the protections of a Senate proposal that would categorically ban the F.B.I. from using a court order for business records to collect internet browsing and search records.

House Democrats Question Top TSA Official about Measures to Protect Workers, Passengers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Congressional Democrats questioned the top TSA official Wednesday about what the agency is doing to protect workers and the public from the quickly spreading coronavirus.

On Tuesday, three screeners at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in Northern California tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fielding questions at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, TSA Administrator David Pekoske told lawmakers that TSA agents regularly clean checkpoints and are allowing passengers to carry on large quantities of sanitizers.

“It’s going to require a little bit more screening on our part because we have to verify that that is, in fact, hand sanitizer in the bottle, but we do want to increase that volume to make it easier for passengers, particularly those that don’t check bags, to bring a volume of sanitizer with them,” Pekoske said, The Hill reports. “Because, as you know, you can go to another city and find none available on the shelves.”

Lawmakers asked Pekoske to ensure the TSA checkpoints are clean.

“Coronavirus is just one of many others to come, so we need to make sure that your workforce is prepared to address these health issues, as well as terrorist issues that are coming at us,” Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., said.

TSA Officers Would Receive Expanded Protections Under Passed House Bill

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

TSA officers would receive expanded protections like other federal employees under a bill passed by the U.S. House on Thursday.

The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act, which passed on a 230-171 vote, would give full collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections to TSA workers, who are among the lowest paid federal employees, The Hill reports.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., said when the TSA was established following Sept. 11, 2001, “its administrator was given broad authority over its workforce with respect to setting up pay and workplace conditions. As such, transportation security officers, T.S.O.’s, have been unable to benefit from fair labor standards act protections or fall under the general schedule pay scale.”

But opponents of the bill said the additional protections would compromise public safety.

“TSA has repeatedly told us that [these changes] would tie the agency’s hands related to national security policy, workforce management, and collective bargaining,” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said on the floor. “Specifically, TSA would not be able to continue a one-step removal process for employees found to have committed serious security breaches or misconduct such as allowing unauthorized access to secure areas or allowing threat items and illicit contraband through the security checkpoints.”

House Committee Accuses CBP of ‘Stonewalling’ Investigation into Offensive Facebook Post

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

U.S. House members investigating a secret and offensive Facebook group used by former and current Border Patrol members are accusing U.S. Customs and Border Protection of “stonewalling” an investigation into the social media page.

In a letter to CBP administrators, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., says the agency continues to hold up documents needed to investigate the group.

“To date, CBP has not produced any information regarding a single employee who was involved in the secret Facebook groups and has not made a single witness available for a transcribed interview. This stonewalling is unacceptable,” Maloney wrote in the letter, according to The Hill.

She added, “The Committee now insists on full compliance with all of its previous requests, or we will be forced to consider compulsory process.”

In July, CBP says it was investigating the Facebook group.

ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news outlet, revealed the group, which included offensive content and demeaning posts that targeted undocumented immigrants and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

One of the posts included an illustration of President Trump pushing the congresswoman’s head toward his crotch. In another post, a member encouraged agents to toss a “burrito at these bitches,” referring to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Then-Border Patrol chief Carla Provost said in a statement last year that the “posts are are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out.”

Last summer, the House Oversight Committed began investigating the group, but now officials say they have hit a wall because CBP is not cooperating.

“CBP has been obstructing the committee’s investigation by making baseless and shifting legal claims in order to avoid producing critical documents and witnesses,” the letter reads.

“As a result, the Committee has been unable to determine whether CBP employees who made inappropriate and threatening comments are still on the job, potentially putting children, immigrants and fellow CBP employees at risk,” Maloney added.

AG Barr Pledges to Investigate FBI, DOJ Actions in Trump Probe

AG William Barr testifies before U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Now that the special counsel investigation of Russia is complete, Attorney General William Barr is flipping the focus on the Justice Department and FBI’s decisions to investigate President Trump and his campaign.

“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” Barr told the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday.

The idea is to determine whether the investigation into possible collusion with Russia was motivated by an anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department.

That topic is expected to gain steam Wednesday as Barr is scheduled to appear before a GOP-led Senate subcommittee.

Trump has long complained that the investigation was a “witch hunt.”

Homeland Security Committee Chief Calls for More Funding for FBI, DHS

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Following the Paris terror attacks, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for “an increase in funding” to protect the U.S. from a similar attack, CNSNEws.com reports. 

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” what needs to be done to protect the homeland, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, responded:

“Well, it’s — it’s very difficult and — and we don’t want these foreign fighters coming into the United States from visa waiver countries,” McCaul responded. “We’ve had, in the homeland, 18 plots stopped that were ISIS-related. We’ve arrested 70 ISIS followers. And we have 1,000 investigations in all 50 states.

“So I think one thing Congress can do is we have an appropriations bill coming up in about two weeks. And I think the FBI and components of Homeland Security will need an increase in funding to help combat this threat that we see right in our homeland.”

Reop. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said airport security remains a problem.

“We certainly have resource challenges, but we are fortunate that we don’t have anywhere near the number of foreign fighters to track that Europe does.

“At the same time, I think two areas where we can really beef up our own security, one is a continuing vulnerability at our airports. All too often when we test the TSA, they don’t meet the test, and that has to (change).”

GOP Lawmakers Consider Ways to Disrupt President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

While Congressional Republicans pledge to fight President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, there’s little they can do, GOP leaders acknowledged Tuesday.

The USA Today reports that Republicans have limited options.

“We’re looking at a variety of options, both for right now and when Republicans control both houses of the Congress next year,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, “Frankly, we have limited options and limited abilities to deal with it directly.”

One plan calls for a government funding bill, but that could result in another partial government shutdown.

Republicans are considering approving a temporary funding bill for Homeland Security, which oversees immigration.

Democrats were not happy. Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said a temporary funding bill for DHS “undermines its ability to carry out critical homeland security missions such as protecting our air, land and sea borders and cyberspace.”