Republicans Highlight Reform Needed to Both USCP & Capitol Police Board
Apr 20, 2021
During last week's hearing with United States Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton, which will continue tomorrow, Committee on House Administration Republicans demonstrated the significant power the Capitol Police Board has as well as the lack of oversight of the board and they suggested reforms are needed to remove politics from the board to ensure any changes to the U.S. Capitol Police are successful.
Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) submits 2017 GAO report for the record during last week's hearing, including this chart that shows the significant control the Capitol Police Board has over the U.S. Capitol Police.
Davis: Madam Chair, did you want to ask yours first? Oh, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Bolton. I know from our previous discussions and your other testimony today, the Capitol Police board's not in your purview. I understand that. We also know the Capitol Police Board is who hires the inspector general, the Capitol Police. I have a GAO report on the Capitol Police from 2017, which I'll ask unanimous consent to enter into the record. I'm assuming that this is entered without objection?
Lofgren: Without objection.
Davis: Thank you. This report found that the board's scope is very unique compared to other law enforcement bodies. This board has a lot of power. I'm going to quote now from the GAO report, "The board has authority for security decisions as well as human capital and personnel matters, including the approval of office terminations." The board has a lot of power. The GAO report, I referenced, breaks down 27 authorities over three main categories. As I said, human capital, security and other. By my count, the chief has only four areas of individual authority. Among other things, the board has the authority to establish regulations for training of the U.S. Capitol Police personnel and approve officers in emergency situations, design, install and maintain capital security systems. And I can quote even more from this year report, which, as I said, will be in the record now. I appreciate your flash reports. I appreciate your recommendations. We had a lot of discussion today and a very good bipartisan way on how do we get better training to our officers? How do we get more officers into the Capitol Police to focus on a new mission of protection rather than just policing? But the GAO, Mr. Bolton, clearly lays out that it's the Capitol Police Board, this board that's made up of the House Sergeant at Arms, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the Architect of the Capitol that has the authority to implement the recommendations you're making.
Davis: That's where I think the American people may not understand that it's the political appointees, the House Sergeant at Arms named by the Speaker of the House, that has the final say on implementing the many good bipartisan, agreed-to, common sense recommendations that you put forward. That's why I think it's important for us as a committee to be able to hear from those House officers, not just you. I want to hear from the people who have purview over the Capitol Police Board because they're on the Capitol Police Board. And I want to know what they are doing and what they have done to actually help or hinder the implementation of many of your recommendations over the years and including now. So when we look ahead based on your extensive law enforcement experience. Give me your opinion, is this the balance of power between the board and the department - the balance that you see will work in favor of us being able to implement the recommendations you've put forth?
Bolton: Thank you, sir. That's a difficult question to answer, but I may be able to at least give the committee something to think of or think about or have an open and honest discussion. If we were constituted to Capitol Police speaking respectfully, Capitol Police have a similar structure as other federal agencies where you have a director, the director of the police, security agency or protective agency. That's the individual that is going to be the person the committees will hold accountable, ultimately has the responsibility of security on the Capitol complex. And then have, you know, you have your chief of police who does day-to-day operations so that, you know, something that they may want to discuss or look at that avenue for accountability, transparency, having a director that is in charge of the overall Capitol complex security, and that's the person that you would hold responsible or have questions if you needed questions and questions to be answered.
Davis: You know, that's something you and I spoke about. I'm glad you mentioned it in a public hearing today, sir. I agree. My fear is, is that without further looking into the structure of what hindered former Chief Sund's ability to respond or prepare for January 6th and to address many of the issues and the failures that you've laid out in your reports, I'm afraid, though, that politics and, we all know from reports, optics got in the way. Many of these common sense recommendations you put forth, that we agree to, won't be implemented because it really, truly is controlled by the political side of Washington, D.C. now and into the future if we don't, seriously, as this committee address the Capitol Police board's inefficiencies, terrible structure and issues that we need to go moving forward. I appreciate recommendation on the director. I think that's something that we need to seriously consider. But also, at the same time, I appreciate your recommendations because we do need to look at changing the mission of the force. Better training is necessary, but we can't do that and we can't trust that any chief, the current acting chief or chief that the Capitol Police Board may be looking at is going to be able to do that without politics getting in the way. So with that, Madam Chair, thank you for the time. And I yield back.
Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) in his questioning of Bolton revealed the lack of oversight of the Capitol Police Board, which is very concerning given their atypical authority over the actions of the department.
Loudermilk: Thank you, Madam Chair, and I appreciate the opportunity to do another round of questions here, and I also want to say I appreciate the history lesson we got on the Capitol Police Board. But to just be clear, and you're right, many of those folks were appointed by Republicans. This is not a partisan line of questioning at all. It's just we are the body that makes the law and we can change that. But we've got to be able to find out where the issues are so we can get to the bottom of it. No way is this intended to be a political, as many people would love this to be, a political discussion, this is not the direction that we're coming from. So I have one more question regarding the board and then I'll move on to some other things, but you stated earlier the Capitol Police Board is not within your purview and I understand that, but if your office does not have the oversight of the board, then who does?
Bolton: I do not know that, sir.
Loudermilk: OK, you're unaware of who actually has oversight over the Capitol Police Board. Does anybody?
Bolton: I'm unaware, like I said, they're not within my purview, so that's not something I would equate myself to understand their makeup there. I concentrate on what in my purview.
Loudermilk: I'd have say that is very disturbing, that either there isn't accountability over the board or who can hold them accountable or that we don't know that. So that that is very concerning to me and I'm sure other people. So I appreciate your answer on that. But let's move on to something else.
Congressman Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) notes that many of Bolton's recommendations had been made in previous reports, but not implemented.
Steil: OK, so not perfect compliance. You're seeing some areas where there's compliance, some where there's room for improvement. Let me keep going. So then in 2019, you include one of your recommendations, increased staffing for the Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division. Was this recommendation included in your previous report as well?
Bolton: I don't recall if that was in our previous report. I can look back on that and see if that was.
Steil: I’ll offer to you that in my reading, I believe it was. But if we put a pin there but broadly, is this recommendation been implemented?
Bolton: They had to have increased some. Our flash reports were asking them to increase additional folks who will never provide or recommending an exact number that is really up to the the Capitol Police Department to decide the appropriate number of individuals.
Steil: To shift gears slightly, the department's required to update the intelligence priorities framework on an annual basis and review and evaluate the IPF on a quarterly basis, is that right?
Bolton: That's true. And we found that reemerged and they were not doing that.
Steil: So you've identified that there was a recommendation, again, it was set forth, but not fully implemented in your review, right?
Steil: In 2019, did your office recommend that the United States Capitol Police consider requiring new sworn recruits to obtain a security clearance?
Bolton: Yes, correct. Yes, sir.
Steil: In a follow up question, of course, did the department implement that recommendation?
Bolton: No, sir, they did not.
Steil: And did you include that recommendation again in your first flash report?
Bolton: Yes, sir, we did.
Steil: So am I right to say that the department failed to maintain implementation of the OIG intelligence recommendations, even though they were made multiple times?
Bolton: That would be correct, sir. Yes.
Steil:So let me let me summarize what I'm finding here today in the opening round of questions, a number of the past reports’ recommendations have been made, but not implemented. And why have they not been implemented? What has been the obstacle? And I know you're not to review the Capitol Police Board, but it appears to me that the Capitol Police Board has operated as a political body rather than a nonpartisan law enforcement entity. And if this is accurate, I believe it's really important that the U.S. Capitol Police Board needs to be reformed. And so with that, I'm looking at my time, I will yield back.