June 28, 2018

Castro, Wyden Introduce Measure to Restore Oversight of Federal Facilities

Legislation Allows Members of Congress Immediate Access to Facilities Housing Migrant Children, Provides Avenue to Report Findings to the Public

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced the Restoring Oversight for Members of Congress Act (H.R. 6260/S.3154) concurrently today in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. 

Following the Trump Administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents and housing them in federal facilities across the nation, this legislation allows members of Congress immediate access to federal facilities, including those under contract or lease, and gives members of Congress an avenue to report their findings. Finally, the bill calls for penalties if an agency denies a member access.

“Under the Trump Administration’s zero-humanity immigration policy migrant children have been taken from their parents and locked away in federal facilities under spartan conditions. These facilities house vulnerable people, including minors, and it’s critical that Congress ensures the conditions are humane and appropriate, even if the policy is not,” Castro and Wyden said.

The bill provides for members of Congress to obtain immediate access to all federal facilities to ensure elected representatives can conduct their oversight role without interference from the executive branch. The bill contains limited exceptions for national security reasons, and creates a process for members to access sensitive and secure facilities.

Castro and Wyden continued: “Members of Congress are the eyes and ears of the American people. Their role is to ensure Americans’ tax dollars and will is being executed properly. The Restoring Oversight for Members of Congress Act would provide members of Congress immediate access to these federal facilities, including those under contract, and allow them to report their findings afterwards. Given Congress’ Constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch, it’s critical that we can conduct inspections to ensure children already suffering trauma are, at a minimum, safe and treated humanely. No administration should have the power to declare federal, taxpayer-funded facilities off-limits to oversight.”

This legislation is endorsed by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Demand Progress, and Immigration Hub. A one-page summary is available here.

Original cosponsors of H.R. 6260 include: Reps. Karen Bass (CA-37); Hank Johnson (GA-04); G.K. Butterfield (NC-01); Donald Norcross (NJ-01); Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18); Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03); James P. McGovern (MA-02); Michael Capuano (MA-07); Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Filemon Vela (TX-34); Darren Soto (FL-09); Albio Sires (NJ-08); Juan Vargas (CA-51); Cheri Bustos (IL-17); Salud Carbajal (CA-24); Jimmy Gomez (CA-34); Nydia Velazquez (NY-07); Pete Aguilar (CA-31); Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15); Marc Veasey (TX-33); J. Luis Correa  (CA-46); Eric Swalwell (CA-15); Gene Green (TX-29); Adam Schiff (CA-28); Raul Ruiz (CA-36); Grace Napolitano (CA-32); Bill Foster (IL-11); Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01); Jose Serrano (NY-15).

Original cosponsors of S.3154 include Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 

# # #