PERMITTING LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS TO HIRE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS POLICE EMPLOYEES -- (House of Representatives - July 20, 2004)
Mr. NEY. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 4816) to permit the Librarian of Congress to hire Library of Congress Police employees.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I would like to again associate myself with the remarks of the distinguished Chair from Ohio. I want to thank the distinguished chairman for moving so resolutely to address the problem caused by last year's appropriations bill.
This predicament, which he has thoroughly outlined and that his legislation would correct, could properly become a case study for why the House rules prevent appropriation bills from including legislative provisions and vest the responsibility for such matters in the authorizing committees.
I support and applaud the chairman's determination to ensure that the Library of Congress does not become a weak point in the Capitol's security perimeter. That, Madam Speaker, we simply cannot afford.
I have, as well, a letter from James Billington, where he quotes, I think, very appropriately that "the Library has been without an adequate police force for more than a year. The U.S. Capitol Police received funding to hire 23 officers that, under the 2004 legislative branch appropriations bill, were to be detailed to the Library of Congress. As a practical matter, we cannot get them until we have approval of a memorandum of understanding between the Capitol Police and the Library. The 2004 appropriations bill removed the Library's ability to hire police employees, and an additional 10 officers have left our force through attrition. Unless," as the chairman's bill provides, "action is rapidly taken to remedy this situation, we will soon have a police force staffed at only two-thirds of its authorized strength, clearly unacceptable in today's world."
I trust, as the chairman has indicated, that the Senate will follow his leadership in this regard. Again I applaud his efforts to prevent the usurpation of the authorizing committee's responsibility. I urge the passage of this.
Madam Speaker, I support the Chairman's motion and urge its adoption.
Section 1015 of Public Law 108-7, enacted on February 20, 2003, provided for the merger of the Library of Congress Police into the United States Capitol Police. The section, which originated in the Senate and was enacted in the Legislative appropriation for fiscal 2003, was never the subject of formal hearings in the Committee on House Administration. Section 1015 provides that the merger of the two police forces will not take place until an implementation plan, developed by the Chief of the Capitol Police and submitted to the Capitol Police Board, the Librarian of Congress, and the appropriate committees, has been approved. Pending that approval, which has not yet occurred, Section 1015 authorized the Librarian to fill vacancies in the Library Police ranks with applicants who satisfy the employment standards of the Capitol Police, to the extent practicable.
Seven months later, Section 1006 of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for 2004, another provision not subjected to hearings in our committee, eliminated the Library's authority to hire police officers pending the merger with the Capitol Police. During fiscal 2004, Section 1006 allows the Librarian to select and recommend to the Capitol Police enough qualified officers to replace those which the Library loses through attrition this year, and up to 23 more. Nevertheless, the restriction on the Library's hiring of police officers has in practice resulted in a serious manpower shortage for the Library. The Librarian, Dr. Billington, has warned our committee that if nothing changes, the Library may soon have a police force staffed at two-thirds of its authorized strength. I certainly agree with Dr. Billington that such a posture is unacceptable in these perilous times.
Madam Speaker, the Chairman's bill would restore the Library's authority to hire police officers pending the merger. Under the bill, the Librarian must still, to the extent practicable, hire individuals who meet the standards of the U.S. Capitol Police, as determined by the Capitol Police chief. Since it is not clear at this time how soon the merger implementation plan may win the approval of the appropriations and authorizing committees involved, including the Committee on House Administration, restoring the Library's control over its police hiring is the prudent course for us to take.
Madam Speaker, the Library of Congress is the nation's preeminent cultural institution. This Congress should take every reasonable step to assure the proper protection of the Library's 4,000 employees, millions of books and artifacts, and its capital facilities, so the Library can continue serving the American people and their Congress. Restoring the Library's ability to hire enough qualified police to support its mission is not only reasonable, but essential.
I want to thank the distinguished chairman, the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. NEY] for moving so resolutely to address the problem caused by last year's appropriations bill. This predicament, which the chairman's legislation would correct, could properly become a case study for why the House rules prevent appropriations bills from including legislative provisions, and vest the responsibility for such matters in the authorizing committees. I support and applaud the chairman's determination to ensure that the Library of Congress does not become a weak point in the Capitol's security perimeter. That, Madam Speaker, we simply cannot afford. I trust the Senate will follow the chairman's leadership in this regard.
Madam Speaker, I include for the RECORD a letter on this subject from the Librarian of Congress: