the process of creating a Department of Homeland Security commenced,
Congress was led to believe that the legislation would be a simple reorganization
aimed at increasing efficiency, not an attempt to expand federal power.
Fiscally conservative members of Congress were even told that the bill
would be budget neutral! Yet, when the House of Representatives initially
considered creating a Department of Homeland Security, the legislative
vehicle almost overnight grew from 32 pages to 282 pages and
the cost had ballooned to at least $3 billion. Now we are prepared to
vote on a nearly 500-page bill that increases federal expenditures and
raises troubling civil liberties questions. Adding insult to injury,
this bill was put together late last night and introduced only this
morning. Worst of all, the text of the bill has not been made readily
available to most members, meaning this Congress is prepared to create
a massive new federal agency without even knowing the details. This
is a dangerous and irresponsible practice.
time Congress attempted a similarly ambitious reorganization of the
government was with the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947.
However, the process by which we are creating this new department bears
little resemblance to the process by which the Defense Department was
created. Congress began hearings on the proposed Department of Defense
in 1945 two years before President Truman signed legislation
creating the new Department into law! Despite the lengthy deliberative
process through which Congress created that new department, turf battles
and logistical problems continued to bedevil the military establishment,
requiring several corrective pieces of legislation. In fact, the Goldwater-Nicholas
Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 was passed to deal
with problems steaming from the 1947 law! The experience with the Department
of Defense certainly suggests the importance of a more deliberative
process in the creation of this new agency.
grants major new powers to the Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) by granting HHS the authority to "administer" the smallpox
vaccine to members of the public if the Department unilaterally determines
that there is a public health threat posed by smallpox. HHS would not
even have to demonstrate an actual threat of a smallpox attack, merely
the "potential" of an attack. Thus, this bill grants federal
agents the authority to force millions of Americans to be injected with
a potentially lethal vaccine based on nothing more than a theoretical
potential smallpox incident. Furthermore, this provision continues to
restrict access to the smallpox vaccine from those who have made a voluntary
choice to accept the risk of the vaccine in order to protect themselves
from smallpox. It is hard to think of a more blatant violation of liberty
than allowing government officials to force people to receive potentially
dangerous vaccines based on hypothetical risks.
this provision appears to be based on similar provisions granting broad
mandatory vaccination and quarantine powers to governors from the controversial
"Model Health Emergency Powers Act," this provision has not
been considered by the House. Instead, this provision seems to have
been snuck into the bill at the last minute. At the very least, before
Congress grants HHS such sweeping powers, we should have an open debate
instead of burying the authorization in a couple of paragraphs tucked
away in a 484-page bill!
also expands the federal police state by allowing the attorney general
to authorize federal agency inspectors general and their agents to carry
firearms and make warrantless arrests. One of the most disturbing trends
in recent years is the increase in the number of federal officials authorized
to carry guns. This is especially disturbing when combined with the
increasing trend toward restricting the ability of average Americans
to exercise their second amendment rights. Arming the government while
disarming the public encourages abuses of power.
HR 5710 gives the federal government new powers and increases federal
expenditures, completely contradicting what members were told about
the bill. Furthermore, these new power grabs are being rushed through
Congress without giving members the ability to debate, or even properly
study, this proposal. I must oppose this bill and urge my colleagues
to do the same.