In 2002, the President signed the Homeland Security Act into law. While this law has served to strengthen our national security and keep us safe in many ways, I am deeply concerned by a provision it included granting certain law enforcement powers to numerous federal regulatory agencies.
As a result of this provision, agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and even the Department of Education now have their own highly armed, SWAT-like police forces. Many may wonder why the Department of Education would need a SWAT team, but the fact is these agencies are using them.
In 2010, officers from the Food and Drug Administration carried out an armed raid a California organic grocery store accused of selling raw milk. Last year, heavily armed and armored agents from the Environmental Protection Agency joined a multi-agency raid on a small Alaska mining operation they suspected of violating the Clean Water Act. And just a few months ago, the Department of Agriculture solicited submachine guns for its law enforcement units.
This militarization of our federal agencies must stop. The existence of highly armed units within such agencies is duplicative, costly, and can be hazardous to peaceful, law-abiding citizens. These types of law enforcement activities should be carried out by the Department of Justice, including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
That is why I’ve sponsored the Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act (H.R. 4934), legislation that will repeal federal regulatory agencies’ arrest and firearm authority and prohibit them from purchasing weaponry regulated under the National Firearms Act, such as machine guns and grenades. Additionally, it will require the government conduct a study detailing the necessity and cost of law enforcement units within these federal agencies.
Rest assured, I am committed to demilitarizing these agencies and reigning in Washington’s out-of-control spending and dangerous behaviors. I will continue to work with my colleagues to bring this legislation to the House floor.