To “those who say that we should not pass it because we included [those groups of victims] ... I have never seen a police officer at a crime scene say ‘Well, before we can do anything about this person who has been beaten, perhaps to death, we must make sure the person is straight, or the person is an American, or the person is not a Native American,’” said Leahy, a former prosecutor.
Leahy later told reporters he will offer the same Senate bill “except, I think, we can cure the blue-slip problem,” referring to a provision to expand a visa program for illegal immigrants who help law enforcement. The revenue-related language prompted constitutional objections from the House because it did not originate there.
Leahy also pledged to bring back an email privacy proposal that fell short last year, saying a November committee vote on the legislation was intended to “lay down the marker as a way of telling everybody it’s coming back up again.”
On judicial nominations, Leahy called out his opponents. Those who block confirmation votes are essentially voting “maybe,” he said. “What an irresponsible, lazy thing to do.”
Leahy also said he would like the Judiciary panel to examine the legal issues surrounding the use of government drones, both abroad and domestically.
He vowed to push for better standards and more oversight for forensic labs to spur “improvements that far more effectively identify and convict people guilty of crimes but avoid the all-too-common tragedy of convicting the innocent.”
And he pledged to examine mandatory minimum sentences, arguing the government’s reliance on them to punish criminals “has been a great mistake.”
“I’m not convinced it has lowered crime,” he said. “Get rid of these mandatory minimum sentences. Let judges act as judges and make up their own minds.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.