Tuesday, July 26, 2011

HR 963 – SAR Immunity – Passes in Committee

As was expected last week, the House Judiciary Committee passed HR 963, the See Something, Say Something Act of 2011. After defeating four amendments from Democrats, three by voice vote and one by a lopsided 16-4 vote (which may have been closer if more Democrats had showed up for the hearing), the bill was approved by a voice vote.

Readers may remember that I had commented on the fact that a nearly identical version of this bill (HR 495) had been introduced earlier by Rep. King (R, NY). That bill was passed over by the Committee to take up this bill that had been subsequently introduced by Chairman Smith (R, TX). This was obliquely addressed by Smith’s official statement on this markup of HR 963. He said:

“I’d like to thank Chairman Peter King of the Homeland Security Committee, who has long advocated for this and other measures to keep America safe.”
With that left-handed endorsement buried in the historical record, Chairman Smith’s name will now be the sole name associated with this legislation, a fact that will almost certainly show up in future campaign literature. Unless, of course, the Senate takes up S 505, the companion bill to HR 495, that was introduced by Senators Lieberman (I, CT) and Collins (R, ME) before the whole House passes HR 963.

This bill will almost certainly pass in the full House. Democrats will again attempt to get anti-profiling language added to the bill, but that will not be successful. Senate passage is also likely, but the lack of restrictions on racial profiling could interfere with the bill being considered there. It is hard to see how such restrictions could be effectively worded when dealing with suspicious activity reports by civilians since ‘profiling’ definitions typically depend on patterns of activity not individual cases.

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