Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, went to the House floor Monday to urge House passage of the Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015 (HR 1656), bipartisan legislation he sponsored which was earlier passed out of the Judiciary Committee.
Goodlatte said he “introduced to provide much needed resources to the agency and implement many of the US Secret Service Protective Mission Panel’s recommendations for improvements for the agency.”
“This bill,” he said, “makes much needed improvements to the Secret Service. These improvements strengthen the security of the President, other protectees and the White House complex, enhance Secret Service officers’ and agents’ training and increase the agency’s manpower.”
The legislation would also improve transparency and accountability within the Secret Service by requiring Senate confirmation of the Secret Service director, who, Goodlatte said, is “entrusted to not only protect the President, but to also head a $1.5 billion federal law enforcement agency,” and “should be subject to the same process of advice and consent of the Senate as his counterparts at other comparable agencies. Finally, this legislation creates an ethics office within the Office of General Counsel in order to respond to rectify and help prevent misconduct at the agency.
In addition, Goodlatte said, “The resources and improvements provided by this legislation will help to reform the Secret Service and to restore the trust that Congress, the President and the American people must have in the vital tasks that the Secret Service carries out every day.”
“The Secret Service has two primary missions: criminal investigations and protection of the President, Vice President and other dignitaries,” he said. And, “As a result, the Secret Service is entrusted with protecting some of our most valuable assets. This is an extremely difficult, high-profile mission in an environment with zero margin for error.”
Continuing, he stated, “The Secret Service is comprised of many outstanding and upstanding men and women who do excellent work; however, over the last few years a series of embarrassing scandals, security failures, and instances of poor judgment have rocked the Secret Service. These incidents range from agents’ use of prostitutes while on official presidential travel to Colombia, to an incident in the Netherlands involving intoxicated agents, to the agency’s failure to initially apprehend fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, who was later arrested inside the White House.”
Following these incidents, the President appointed a new Secret Service director, Joseph Clancy, who has implemented a number of reforms, Goodlatte noted, adding, “The President also appointed a panel of experts to recommend changes to the Secret Service.”
Goodlatte said through his “committee’s oversight and the recommendations of the Panel, it is clear that, despite Director Clancy’s initiatives, legislative action is still necessary. We must ensure that the agency’s officers and agents are properly trained in order to successfullyidentify potential threats and prevent them from materializing, as well as to ensure that the agency has the tools it needs to carry out its mission.”