Leahy Expresses Optimism for 112th Congress
By Fahima Haque | January 11, 2022 3:28 pm

The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, ushered in the 112th Congress with high hopes outlining his committee’s agenda on Tuesday.

The Vermont Democrat spoke specifically on fighting fraud, promoting innovation and protecting national security and constitutional rights in the digital age.

Guests gathered at the Freedom Forum within the Newseum to hear Leahy emphasize the need for bipartisanship and the elimination of divisive rhetoric, especially after Saturday’s shootings involving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was gravely wounded, and Federal Judge John Roll, who was killed.

With the Republicans in control of the House, Leahy said he is committed to working with the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, and the new ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Leahy recalled his work with Grassley in the previous Congress, citing The Leahy-Grassley Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, the False Claims Act, the Affordable Care Act, and the Wall Street Reform Act, and he said he wants to build on that progress.

“The Obama administration is a real partner in our fraud-fighting efforts, and we want to make sure the newly enacted provisions are having the intended effect, as well as ensuring that adequate resources are devoted to our anti-fraud enforcement efforts,” Leahy said.

He said he intends to spotlight tax fraud in the first Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, on Jan. 26, and that panel members want to learn more about the annual fraud recovery of more than $3 billion of taxpayers’ dollars by the Justice Department.

Leahy praised Smith’s newly created intellectual property subcommittee as a unanimously supported bipartisan effort to stop online criminals. Another top priority is to modernize the patent system through the Patent Reform Act, he said.

“Our intellectual property-based businesses are among the most productive in our economy and among its best employers,” said Leahy.

Leahy said his committee has much to do. He emphasized the desire for more aggressive measures to protect competition to create jobs and businesses, revisiting the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act to further citizens’ privacy rights, and reintroducing the Faster Freedom of Information Act later on this year.

Noting that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recently wrote in his annual report on the urgent need to fill Federal judicial vacancies, Leahy once again lamented the destructive influence of partisanship, citing overburdened courts and crippling caseloads.

With vacancies in 85 district courts and 16 circuit courts, Leahy said he would do his best to get nominees confirmed. “We cannot ask people to take on public service as a judge, and then subject them to needless, unexplained, humiliating partisan delays in the confirmation process,” Leahy said.

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