July 21, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today in support of his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2021, which would provide proper oversight of, and a limitation on, what type of equipment is transferred from the Department of Defense (DOD) to federal, state and local law enforcement under the 1033 program.
Further, the amendment (#2411) would add training requirements for those who receive the equipment in de-escalation techniques and protecting citizens’ constitutional rights. Inhofe offered his amendment as an alternative to the Schatz amendment (#2252), which would impose significant limitations on the transfer of surplus DOD equipment to law enforcement agencies and add burdensome certification and reporting requirements — effectively killing the program.
As Prepared for Delivery:
Today, we’ll be considering amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. We’re still working on manager’s amendments, but as I’ve previous noted, we’ve already agreed to more than 140 bipartisan amendments. It was extremely important to both Senator Reed and myself that we try to vote on at least a few individual amendments. This is something we haven’t been able to do the last couple of years. So I’m glad we’ll be doing this within the hour.
The first two amendments are from Sen. Schatz and me on the 1033 program. I am strongly opposed to Senator Schatz’s amendment to end the 1033 program. The 1033 program is an effective use of taxpayer money, allowing the Department of Defense to transfer surplus equipment to federal, state and local law enforcement.
In fact, since the program’s creation in 1990, more than $7 billion worth of vehicles, desks, boots, computers, and more has been responsibly recycled to local law enforcement. This is equipment the military no longer needs, that these agencies would be purchasing anyway. The equipment is always demilitarized so that it’s appropriate for public safety use.
For years, local law enforcement has been asked to do more with less, and, now as they face liberal calls to defund the police – we need to be continuing this transparent, responsible program. Senator Schatz’s amendment would place such stringent limitations on the 1033 program that it would make the program impossible to use. Further, it adds overly burdensome certification and reporting requirements. Simply put, he’s trying to kill the program with bureaucracy.
Say, for example, that a sheriff’s office in your town wants to receive sleeping bags that the Department of Defense no longer needs. Under Senator Schatz’s amendment, that sheriff’s office would need to: put the request for sleeping bags out for public comment 30 days prior; receive approval from local and state authorities; and then file reports on how the sleeping bags will be used, and what kind of training officers will receive for the sleeping bags. Sheriff’s offices are too busy working to keep our communities safe to file numerous reports on the sleeping bags that they receive from DoD.
To put it bluntly, Senator Schatz’s amendment would kill the 1033 program. This is why both the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Fraternal Order Police strongly oppose Senator Schatz’s amendment, and I ask unanimous consent that letters noting their opposition be inserted into the record. However, I support strong oversight of the 1033 program, and I understand the intent behind my colleague’s amendment. That’s why I’m offering an alternative to Senator Schatz’s amendment. My amendment places a more narrow limitation on the transfer of Department of Defense equipment. This includes weapons that cannot be used by state and local enforcement officers – like weaponized tracked vehicles and drones or lethal grenades.
It also makes sure that those who receive this equipment also get necessary training, on how to protect citizens’ constitutional rights and de-escalation techniques.
Defunding and de-equipping our law enforcement agencies simply won’t fix anything. Making sure they have the right equipment and the right training will. I urge my colleagues to vote no on the Schatz amendment and yes on Inhofe 2411.