3:58 PM EST

Vernon J. Ehlers, R-MI 3rd

Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for his kind words and particularly for his leadership on this issue and finally bringing it to fruition. As he said, it has taken far too long. But now it is here and we are doing it right.

I rise in support of H.R. 3690, the U.S. Capitol Police and Library of Congress Police Merger Implementation Act of 2007, which will provide for the merger between the Library of Congress Police and the United States Capitol Police.

While bringing together two law enforcement bodies may seem like an easy proposition, whenever you have two entities with existing cultures, established protocols, and disparate missions, it is important to conduct a merger of those two groups thoughtfully and with due diligence. This, we have attempted to do.

While the Library of Congress Police and the U.S. Capitol Police both serve and protect the Congress and its assets, they do so in very different capacities. The U.S. Capitol Police are primarily charged with securing the Capitol buildings, Members of Congress, staff and visitors and providing an emergency planning and response function in the event of a terrorist attack or other unplanned activity.

[Time: 16:00]

Its core mission is too important to set aside even in the interest of completing this merger. The Library has a mission to serve the Congress and provide essential materials to enable Members and staff to get the information they need to craft effective legislation and perform other essential duties. One very important yet incomplete undertaking within the Library is to conduct a complete inventory of its collection, not only to have an accurate record of what materials are in its possession,

but to also create a baseline for measurement of its inventory control efforts going forward. The committee is working closely with Library staff to ensure that progress continues to be made on the inventory of its collections, despite the additional work and effort required to unite these two law enforcement bodies.

The Library and the U.S. Capitol Police have studied the effects of this merger on executing their core operations and how problematic aspects might be mitigated. I am confident that both organizations will continue to carry out their core functions with the level of excellence that the Congress has come to expect.

Over the past 4 years, through numerous hearings and countless meetings with staff of both organizations, the Library and the Capitol Police have exhibited a commitment to apply the law enforcement expertise of the U.S. Capitol Police to the unique needs of the Library, creating an organization that will be greater than the sum of its parts. They have worked to put in place policies and procedures that will ensure that this union is successful and that it achieves the desired objectives of both

organizations. Still, this merger marks a beginning, not an end.

As ranking member of the Committee on House Administration, I look forward to working with Chairman Brady to make certain that, going forward, both organizations have the resources and assistance they need to successfully integrate their law enforcement divisions. In particular, we wish to provide the Library and the Capitol Police with a means to communicate with the Congress on the progress of the merger and impart any guidance or resources that they require to achieve long-term success.

I urge our colleagues to join me in supporting this bill which will help ensure that the Library's treasures are protected from harm and preserved for generations to come.

I want to once again thank Chairman Brady and the other members of the committee for their hard work on this very, very difficult issue. It seemed easy, but it wasn't, and I'm pleased that we finally have achieved this good result.

I also want to thank Chief Morris of the U.S. Capitol Police who has handled this very well and gone through some very delicate negotiations. In addition, the administration of the Library has been very helpful in trying to reach agreement, and they, of course, have very legitimate concerns about their needs to protect their collection, and they, one and all, have been very helpful in working with us.

Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.