Amid Republican Pressure, Majority Commits to Holding First Oversight Hearing of Capitol Police Board in 76 Years
During today’s hearing, Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) received a commitment from Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that the committee will hold the first oversight hearing of the Capitol Police Board in 76 years. After recent hearings revealed little to no oversight of the Capitol Police Board, Republicans on the committee urged the majority to convene a hearing of the entire board, which according to the Congressional Research Service, has not occurred since 1945. Davis has discussed the need for more oversight, transparency, and accountability of the board, which oversees the United States Capitol Police (USCP) and is responsible for nearly every security decision on Capitol Hill.
Text of Davis's opening remarks from today’s hearing:
Thank you, Chairperson Lofgren and thank you to our witness, Mr. Bolton, for being here again. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss your latest Flash Report, which is focused on counter-surveillance and threat assessment capabilities within the United States Capitol Police and highlighted the need for improvements.
As I noted at the last hearing you testified at, I appreciate your recommendations and agree with many of them.
Specifically, I agree with the need to increase the bandwidth in the department to adequately handle the threat cases toward membersof congress that continues to increase year after year.
I continue to be extremely concerned about USCP’s limitedintelligence-gathering and analysis capabilities. If we have the intelligence about an attack or threat against a member of Congress, but do not have the correct policies or people in place to properly gather, interpret, and operationalize that intel, what is the point?
Specifically, Mr. Bolton’s latest report mentions USCP did not have detailed or up-to-date guidance in place for its counter-surveillance and threat assessment operations.
I’ve raised this issue before and it’s been recommended by Mr. Bolton and General Honoré, is the need to transform the USCP into a protective force, and less of a traditional police department. Mr. Bolton’s latest report raises concerns about the number of the threats against members and recommends greater resources be dedicated to the Threat Assessment Section or T-A-S.
As someone who has received a number of threats, one of which resulted in a successful prosecution and conviction, I would absolutely agree with that, but looking at the numbers provided in Mr. Bolton’s report, I’m extremely concerned that while the threats reported against members have increased significantly, the number of arrests have stayed relatively the same, as have the number of indictments. That seems to indicate to me that there may be another issue at hand that cannot be solved by simply increasing resources and will require a better partnership with the Department of Justice and other executive branch law enforcement partners, as well as state and local police and prosecutors. I hope to get into this more during my Q&A, but I’m very troubled by these disproportionate numbers.
Related to the issues with the T-A-S, I would like to ask permission to enter into the record a recent statement by the United States Capitol Police addressing Mr. Bolton’s third Flash Report?
Lofgren: Without objection
In the statement released this past Friday, USCP notes a 107% increase in threats against members and agrees with the recommendations by Mr. Bolton and are working to implement many of them. But the department notes that some of the most important recommendations by Mr. Bolton require, in addition to more resources, authorization or approval from ‘Congressional stakeholders.’ And to me, that means the Capitol Police Board.
This is a point that I’ve continued to make throughout these hearings. While I’m happy to chat with Mr. Bolton again, I’m disappointed that the committee has not publicly heard from Chief Pittman or anyone else who are responsible for implementing these recommendations.
It also brings me to my next point and that’s the need for this committee to hear from the full Capitol Police Board. As I’ve mentioned several times before, the board has a ton of power over the USCP. Therefore, I think it’s imperative this committee hear from the entire board. According to the Congressional Research Service, the entire board hasn’t appeared before Congress since 1945 – that’s 76 years.
As Mr. Bolton also noted in a previous hearing, there’s little to no oversight of the board, which makes the majority of security decisions on Capitol Hill. I believe oversight and accountability is desperately needed and I think this committee could work together to provide it.
I know the Chair mentioned that she intends to call a hearing of the Capitol Police Board, but I’d like the chair to engage in a quick colloquy, if she will do so?
Lofgren: I'll be happy to hear from the Ranking Member.
Madam Chair, thank you again for showing bipartisanship and agreeing to the request that many of us have to hear from the Capitol Police Board. Could the Chairperson let the rest of the committee know when you think that might happen?
Lofgren: I don't have a date selected, but we will certainly work with minority in the scheduling.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the opportunity and the time and your willingness to work on this. And I'm hopeful we can continue this dialogue with other scheduled future hearings regarding the security of this campus.
Protecting the Capitol should not be a partisan issue and I believe working together as the Senate is doing will ensure reforms are actually made, and made this Congress.
With that, I look forward to discussing these issues more with Mr. Bolton and I yield back.