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Legislation of the 111th Congress (2009-2011)

For legislation inactive for a year or more, see the archives:

111th Congress Archives
110th Congress Archives
109th Congress Archives

108th Congress Archives

Contact members of Congress on any of the matters listed below.


Homeland Security and the "War on Terror"

Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely (FAST) Redress Act of 2011

Bill Number: H.R. 1007

Status: Introduced in the House on March 7, and referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security and then to the Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection.

Sponsor: Yvette Clark (D-NY)

The bill will put in place a formal appeal process for people who’ve been incorrectly identified as a security risk because their name is listed on the terrorist watchlist. The redress process would include the creation of the Office of Appeals and Redress that would institute procedures for a 30 day appeal process. A Comprehensive Cleared List would be compiled with appealers’ identification information, which would then be integrated into screening processes that use the terrorist watchlist.

Immigration

Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act

Bill Number: H.R. 1134

Status: Introduced in the House on March 16, 2011, and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Sponsor: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Cosponsors:

  • Todd Akin (R-MO)
  • Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
  • Joe Barton (R-TX)
  • Brian Bilbray (R-CA)
  • Diane Black (R-TN)
  • Dan Burton (R-IN)
  • John Campbell (R-CA)
  • Mike Coffman (R-CO)
  • Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
  • Samuel Graves (R-MO)
  • Samuel Johnson (R-TX)
  • Walter Jones (R-NC)
  • Steve King (R-IA)
  • Jack Kingston (R-GA)
  • Donald Manzullo (R-IL)
  • Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
  • Candice Miller (R-MI)
  • Gary Miller (R-CA)
  • Sue Myrick (R-NC)
  • Bill Posey (R-FL)
  • Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
  • Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)

The bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to deny funding from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program to any state or local subdivision that prohibits law enforcement from gathering information on an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. Funding will also be denied if the state/city has any law, policy, or procedure restricting communications with government entities regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status.

Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act

Bill Number: H.R. 933

Status: Introduced in the House on March 3, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on the Judiciary. On March 10, the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, and then on March 21, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

Sponsor: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

Cosponsors: Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA); Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)

The bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a detention advisory committee and press the regulations on the care and custody of detainees. The Secretary shall also start alternatives to the detention programs existing now. In the alternatives, immigrants would be released under supervision that assists and ensures their appearance at all immigration related appointments. Protective detention systems will also be created for certain vulnerable immigrants.

The Internet and Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act

Bill Number: S.413

Status: Introduced in the Senate on February 17. Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sponsor: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

Cosponsors: Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE); Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

The bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and other laws to create a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications in the Department of Homeland Security and an Office of Cybersecurity Policy in the White House.

Additionally, the bill would have the Department of Homeland Security create a list of “systems or assets” that are considered critical infrastructure. The president would be granted the power to “issue a declaration of a national cyber-emergency”. Once declared, the Department of Homeland Security would be given widespread powers, including the ability to require any of the systems on the critical infrastructure list to “comply with any emergency measure or action”.  The bill does not define what establishes an emergency, nor does it provide an appeal process for operators during a “cyber-emergency”. In general, oversight of executive powers in the bill are weak, as a “cyber-emergency” lasts 30 days and can be extended for an entire 120 days without Congressional oversight.

Secrecy, Transparency, and Freedom of Information

Faster FOIA Act of 2011

Bill Number: S. 627, H.R. 1564

Status: Introduced to the Senate on March 17, and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The text of the bill was amended in committee and recommended to be considered by the Senate as a whole.
Introduced in the House on April 14, and referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Sponsor: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Rep. Brad Sherman

Cosponsors:
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX); Jon Tester (D-MT); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

The bill would create the Commission on Freedom of Information Act Processing Delays. Along with finding methods that would reduce delays for processing requests, the commission would investigate the recent rise of FOIA exemptions that have been issued by federal agencies in order to stop the of release information.

USA PATRIOT Act, Privacy, and Surveillance

A bill to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to require specific evidence to business records and other tangible things, and provide appropriate transition procedures, and for other purposes.

Bill Number: S. 406

Status: Introduced in the Senate February 17 and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Sponsor: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The bill would replace the “relevance to an investigation standard” with the “nexus of terrorism” standard. The relevance standard, used in the USA PATRIOT Act, allows government agents access to information, such as DNA samples, as long as they can assert relevance. In the “nexus of terrorism” standard, agents would have to prove that the information they want to obtain is connected to terrorist activities.

FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011

Bill Number: H.R.514

Status: Introduced on January 26, 2011. Passed Senate 86-12 and House 279-143. President signed into law on February 25, 2011.

Sponsor: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

Cosponsors: Rep. Michael Rogers (R-MI); Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

The bill amended the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, to extend through May 27, 2011. The amendment extends the authority for “roving wiretaps,” the “lone wolf” provision, the “tangible records provision.” Learn more about these provisions.

Whistleblower Protection

Non-Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011

Bill Number: S.241

Status: Introduced in the Senate January 31, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sponsors: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Cosponsor: Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)

The bill expands whistleblower protections to employees that expose misuses of federal funds.

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011

Bill Number: S. 743

Status: Introduced on April 6, 2011. Referred to the committee of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sponsor: Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Cosponsors: Mark Begich (D-AK); Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); Thomas Carper (D-DE); Susan Collins (R-ME); Charles Grassley (R-IA); Thomas Harkin (D-IA); Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Carl Levin (D-MI); Joseph Lieberman (I-CT); Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Mark Pryor (D-AR)

The bill amends chapter 23 of title 5, United States Code, to clarify that any disclosure of gross waste or mismanagement, fraud, abuse, or illegal activity will be protected, but not disagreements over legitimate policies. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sole jurisdiction over federal whistleblower cases shall be suspended for five years. Also, non-discrimination and anti-retaliatory laws will be extended to employees of the Transportation Security Administration; the anti-gag provision of the Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill will be strengthened; and protections for whistleblowers of the Intelligence Community will be established based off of those for FBI employees.

Other Resources

Contact Congress
Rights Working Group
BORDC Action Alerts archive
BORDC Resources on Civil Liberties Issues
Literature and Analyses on Civil Liberties Issues