The House passed legislation Monday evening to reform the United States Secret Service, which has been plagued with a string of mishaps and scandals, including an incident involving a fence jumper who made it into the East Room of the White House.
Lawmakers voted 365-16 to pass bipartisan Secret Service Improvement Act, authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and backed nearly universally by both parties.
The bill mandates more training hours, more oversight and improvement to eliminate vulnerabilities in the agency, such as a recent drone landing on the White House lawn.
The bill would also boost manpower significantly, requiring the agency director to hire no fewer than 80 new agents and 200 additional division officers. The bill authorizes funding to pay for the additional resources for the agency, but it also includes new congressional oversight by requiring the Secret Service director to be confirmed by the Senate, rather than simply appointed by the president.
"The person entrusted to not only protect the president, but to also head a $1.5 billion federal law enforcement agency, should be subject to the same process of advice and consent of the Senate as his counterparts at other comparable agencies," Goodlatte said.
In addition to security breaches, the Secret Service has grappled with cases of misconduct stemming back to 2012, when Secret Service agents on an advance trip to Colombia were found to have brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms.
The legislation would require the agency to establish an ethics office within the office of the general counsel, "in order to respond to rectify and help prevent misconduct at the agency," Goodlatte said.
Washington D.C.'s non-voting delegate, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, praised the bill for reforms that excluded new restrictions to Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, where the public can travel freely.
"The fence jumper had already shown that the Secret Service could not meet, or could not be expected to meet, its zero-failure mission," Norton said. "Today's bill shows Congress takes reform of the Secret Service very seriously."