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EC from DC - December 5, 2014

Dec 5, 2014
EC from DC


Trust must exist between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. It is imperative. This week has shown there is much work that must be done. In fact, the last few months have shown that. And perhaps no one knows that better, than those of us in Missouri.

In the weeks and months that followed the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, I worked, along with Congressman Clay, who represents that area, and others, to initiate a change in law enforcement. I believe a fundamental shift needs to take place in moving away from a military-style response, and toward a more community-based, proportionate-response, style of policing.

I was very pleased this week, when the President announced his desire to strengthen community policing as well, and improve mutual trust between those charged with protecting the public, and citizens. President Obama released the Administration's Review of Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition. A very long name but a goal that is summed up pretty quickly. All members of law enforcement deserve the best tools and training available. This is critical in order for them to serve our communities, and to protect those of us living in them. However, we should not turn our cities into war zones. The President's voicing of his intentions and priorities was an important first step, and I am honored and encouraged that many of those priorities are ones I have championed for many months.

The White House has provided several examples of potential improvements, including:

  • ensuring that all equipment available for acquisition by law enforcement agencies has a legitimate civilian law enforcement purpose;
  • including training requirements that address appropriate use and deployment of equipment;
  • broadening transparency of the 1033 and other agency equipment repurpose programs; and
  • requiring police officers to wear body cameras.

In August of this year, Congressman Clay and I wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. In it, we asked him to review the 1033 Program. The next day, we met with Secretary Hagel at the Pentagon, to talk about the militarization of local law enforcement, and some of the inherent dangers we saw in this trend. It is through the 1033 Program, that surplus Department of Defense equipment is often times distributed to local law enforcement agencies. I was encouraged by his response then, and continue to be encouraged in the wake of the President's response now.

I believe it is important, as we advocate for change, to do so in a way that commands respect, an open mind, and a receptive ear. The thousands of you in Missouri's Fifth District have conducted yourselves in just that way. I am stopped repeatedly in Washington by colleagues, who tell me how impressed they are by the response of those in the Fifth District to the Michael Brown case, that of Eric Garner, and others. As one Member of Congress said to me, "Your constituents seem to understand the importance of standing up - and speaking out - for what they believe in, but doing it without causing more pain and tragedy in the process." As always, I could not be more proud to represent you.

I think there are many factors contributing to the measured, yet passionate voices, coming from our district. And the good relationship we enjoy with law enforcement plays a pivotal role. Sure, there are issues, problems, and concerns sometimes, but a long line of good local law enforcement leaders has benefitted us greatly.

It is my hope we can continue working together, listening to one another, and moving forward in a positive and productive way, as we tackle these and other deep and meaningful issues.


This was a very good week for our area on a couple of fronts. As you know, I have been working for years to bring more national recognition to our area, and to the groundbreaking work being done at the Liberty Memorial and National World War I Museum. I am happy to report that the appropriate designation for the Liberty Memorial passed a big hurdle this week, when the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Within it, was our provision, which means very soon the Liberty Memorial will be known as America's National World War I Museum and Memorial. NDAA is now on its way to the Senate. During the 112th Congress, the WWI Centennial Commission was established. The Commission is currently planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities that will commemorate the centennial of World War I. Our provision also broadens the scope of that Commission, which will increase its depth, and continue growing national awareness about the museum - and all it has to offer.


Paying tribute to the end of World War I battlefield hostilities, while honoring the memory, service, and sacrifice of more than four million brave Americans, is the goal of a bill I introduced in Washington with Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-5). The American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, cosponsored by 301 other Members, passed the House of Representatives this week by a vote of 418 to 3. Just hours later, this bipartisan legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent and is now on the way to the President for his signature.

In 2018, we will mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice with Germany, which ended World War I battlefield hostilities. It has taken far too long for us to adequately honor the men and women in this country, who served so courageously during this war. Now is the time.

H.R. 2366 directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of this centennial. Our country has used commemorative coins to memorialize its significant conflicts, including the Civil War, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. But until now, no coin existed to honor the brave veterans of World War I. I say -- it's about time.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report this week showing that patient safety has improved dramatically over the last few years. And the Affordable Care Act is given some of the credit for these vast, positive changes.

According to the report, reforms of the ACA have contributed to the following:

  • In 2013 alone, there were 800,000 fewer hospital-acquired conditions
  • 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals
  • And $8 billion was saved in health spending

The ACA is credited with playing a key role in these patient safety improvements. One example? Medicare payment incentives to hospitals to improve the quality of care. Another example given was the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative.

I will keep working as the law is fully implemented, to make sure all in Missouri's Fifth District, have not only the patient safety you deserve, but health and economic security as well.