Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 29, 2015

Senate Will Review Militarization of Police in Defense Bill, Levin Says

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee will look into the program that provides Pentagon surplus to local police before the full Senate considers the next defense authorization.

The Armed Services panel has already approved the fiscal 2015 defense programs bill for Senate floor consideration, and staff for Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and ranking member James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., are working over the August recess to try and develop a defined universal set of amendments to set up for floor consideration.

“Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals. We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents,” Levin said in a statement Friday. “Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.”

The program is facing new scrutiny in the aftermath of local police response to protests over the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. On Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo., handed command over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

When asked Thursday if Sen. Rand Paul might follow up his opinion piece for Time.com that criticized federal action contributing to overly militarized police activities with an amendment to the defense programs bill designed to restrict the Pentagon transfers, an aide to the Kentucky Republican pointed to the trouble that Republican senators have had getting amendments considered on the floor to begin with. However, the defense bill usually reaches the floor with a managers’ package of amendments that are bundled together with the backing of Levin and Inhofe.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., included the defense bill on a long to-do list for the brief September work period that could include weekend sessions.

Related:

In Wake of Ferguson, New Focus on Civil Rights, Militarized Cops

Washington Leaders Praise Police Tactic Changes in Ferguson (Video)

As Ferguson Police-Protester Clashes Escalate, Congress Wades In

Obama Calls for Calm, Healing

CBC Members Call for Full DOJ Investigation

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  1. ShadrachSmith

    Aug. 16, 2014
    9:41 a.m.

    Militarization of government enforcement is a Democrat goal. Levin will do nothing to slow it down.

  2. pitch1934

    Aug. 16, 2014
    12:58 p.m.

    Strange, how the Democrats get blamed for police militarization when the republicans are the “Law and Order” party. Most F.O.P.’s end up endorsing the R candidate in most elections. Go figure.

  3. WeenieHolder

    Aug. 17, 2014
    7:47 a.m.

    This Democrat circular firing squad is a hoot – police unions, an incompetent governor, Holder’s DOJ racial agitators, DHS change agents, the Sharpton/Jackson race hustlers, pansy Black Panthers, and idiot liquor & hair-weave looters.

    The nation is coming to the collective realization they’re all worthless and we’re better off without any of them. Just sit back and enjoy the show.

  4. Derrick S.

    Sept. 2, 2014
    2:47 a.m.

    You might want to look at the Minority and Majority Leader Report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations regarding Federal funding for state and local Fushion Centers. You will find in this 141 page report that most states and local municipalities have misappropriated the funds for antiterrorism centers to add vehicles, weapons and gear to spy on it’s citizens. It clearly states on page 77 and further down on page 132 about the tactics their using for local law enforcement being in violation to citizens rights to privacy. To top it all off, their using Federal money for these gadgets and none of which is for prevention of terrorism as they claim.

    • Derrick S.

      Sept. 2, 2014
      2:51 a.m.

      As a matter of fact Levin’s name is on the report as Chairman and Tom Cobur is the ranking minority member on the report.

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