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Strengthening Investigations of Sex Offenders

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I am pleased that the Senate is finally being allowed to take up the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act and the Strengthening Investigations of Sex Offenders and Missing Children Act. These two legislative proposals will enhance federal law enforcement officers' ability to investigate and solve crimes. I want to thank Senator Whitehouse for his leadership and perseverance in working to pass these important clarifications to existing federal law enforcement authorities.

The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2011 clarifies the authority of the FBI and other Federal law enforcement agencies to assist state and local law enforcement upon request with investigations of mass killings and other instances of public violence. This important legislation will help to ensure that State and local law enforcement agencies receive the assistance they need in times of crisis. I am disappointed that this Senate bill, which was voted out of the Judiciary Committee on November 17, 2011, with overwhelming support, and the companion House bill, which was passed by the House by a vote of 358 to 9, were held up for more than a year. I hope that there is still time this session for the House to take action so that the bill can be sent to the President and he can sign it into law without further delay.

When tragedy strikes, as with the shootings in Tucson, AZ, in 2011, in Aurora, CO, in 2012, and this past Friday in Newtown, CT, there should be no doubt that Federal law enforcement can assist state and local police officers. The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act will ensure that all hands can be on deck when law enforcement assistance is needed most.

The Strengthening Investigations of Sex Offenders and Missing Children Act will reconcile an inconsistency in the United States Marshals Service's statutory authority to improve the ability of U.S. Marshals to investigate cases involving missing children and certain sex offenders. The United States Marshals Service is a key partner in the investigation and prosecution of missing and exploited children, and we must ensure that there is no question as to the marshals' authority to assist in these cases.

I regret that there are still Republican Senators holding up passage of other legislation to provide Federal assistance to state and local law enforcement that they need. Among the measures being stalled are the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, the National Blue Alert Act, Local Courthouse Safety Act, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act, and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Award Grant Program Reauthorization.

At least one Republican Senator has gone so far as to contend that it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to provide assistance and support to State and local law enforcement. I disagree. I believe such support is essential to State and local law enforcement as they work hard to protect communities in difficult times when resources from State and local governments are being squeezed.

I yield the floor.


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