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Public Statements

Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

H.R. 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, introduced by Congressman Tom Rooney, makes commonsense improvements to an existing Federal law that prohibits unlawful access to the White House, the Vice President's residence, and other restricted areas.

Current law prohibits unlawful entries upon any restricted building or ground where the President, Vice President, or other protectee is temporarily visiting. However, there is no Federal law that expressly prohibits unlawful entry to the White House and its grounds or the Vice President's residence and its grounds. The United States Secret Service must therefore rely upon a provision in the District of Columbia Code, which addresses only minor misdemeanor infractions when someone attempts to or successfully climbs the White House fence or, worse, breaches the White House, itself.

H.R. 347 remedies this problem. It specifically includes the White House, the Vice President's residence, and their respective grounds in the definition of restricted buildings and grounds. The bill also clarifies that the penalties in section 1752 of title 18 apply to those who knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so. Current law does not include this important element.

The House passed this bill 1 year ago by a vote of 399 3. Earlier this month, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent. The Senate also clarified that the revised law applies to individuals the Secret Service is required to protect by statute or by Presidential memorandum.

H.R. 347 ensures that the President, the First Family, the Vice President, and others are protected whether they are in the White House or attending an event in a convention center or meeting hall.

I commend my colleague from Florida (Mr. Rooney) for sponsoring this legislation, which enjoys overwhelming bipartisan and bicameral support.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.


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