Monday, August 25, 2014

Rep. Stewart seeking to demilitarize federal regulatory agencies

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said a police show of force against protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that have been compared to an invading army is boosting interest in his effort to demilitarize federal regulatory agencies. But Stewart told the Deseret News and KSL editorial board Monday that he isn't trying to take advantage of the concerns raised by the local police reaction to demonstrations against the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old. "I don't feel comfortable taking advantage of that and trying to sell it by saying, 'Well, look what's happening out in Ferguson, therefore, come support my bill.' I think those situations are different enough," he said. Still, the images of a heavily armored vehicle rolling through the small St. Louis suburb while officers outfitted in battle-ready camouflage gear carry automatic weapons is having an impact. "There's no question it's brought much more attention to the bill because of what has happened in the last few weeks in Missouri," the 2nd District congressman said, helping the public to better understand what he's trying to do. In June, Stewart introduced what he's calling the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act in response to SWAT-style teams at various federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management. His bill, which he said likely won't go before Congress until early next year, followed the standoff earlier this year between heavily armed BLM agents and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters. "There is just no reason, I don't think, that the Department of Education, the IRS, or the FDA, or, you know, pick a regulatory agency, needs what is essentially a SWAT team," Stewart said...more

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