House Republicans are working on steps that would start to take the heavy weaponry that government agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been procuring for some time now.
According to TheBlaze, Rep. Chris Stewart from Utah has proposed the Regulatory Agency De-militarization Act that looks to scale back the 2002 law that gave offices under the Inspector General the authority to carry weapons and make arrests. However Stewart, along with most of America, believes that it has prompted agencies to create their own “SWAT-like” teams to handle situations that should be handled by law enforcement.
“I understand that federal agents must be capable of protecting themselves,” Stewart said Monday. “But what we have observed goes far beyond providing necessary protection.”
Stewart also noted that the Food and Drug Agency along with the Department of Education both have law enforcement teams for carrying out raid, which he said shows the government is going too far.
Stewart used a 2010 raid by armed FDA officers on a grocery store suspected of raw milk, and a 2011 raid conducted by the Department of Education on the home of a man suspected of student aid fraud as examples of the overreach. He also noted the Environmental Protection Agency raided an Alaskan mining operation in 2013 because it was suspected of violated the Clean Water Act.
He said that when there’s “genuinely dangerous” situations involving federal that that it should be up to the Justice Department to handle them, not regulatory bodies. “Not only is it overkill, but having these highly-armed units within dozens of agencies is duplicative, costly, heavy handed, dangerous and destroys any sense of trust between citizens and the federal government.”
Stewart’s bill would require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on any federal agency that is using weapons or undergoing military training, as well as repeal the 2002 grant of authority given to Offices of Inspectors General under the Homeland Security Act. Additionally, it would prohibit those agencies from buying machine guns, grenades, or other weapons.
“The militarization of agencies is only a symptom of a much deeper and more troubling problem within Washington – that the federal government no longer trusts the American people,” Stewart said. “When all of us feel that we are no longer seen as citizens but as potential dangerous suspects – a relationship of trust is impossible.
“I’m working to restore and rebuild trust – beginning with this effort to defund paramilitary capabilities within federal regulatory agencies.”