Senate Approves Ban on Gun-Tracking Funding

Posted October 18, 2011 at 4:57pm

The Senate today overwhelmingly voted to attach language to a spending package that would prevent the Justice Department from spending money on any gun-tracking operations such as the Fast and Furious operation.

The Senate voted 99 to 0 to include the amendment in the package, which is made up of the Commerce, Justice and science; Agriculture; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development spending bills. The DOJ’s annual budget is included in the CJS spending bill.

The 2009 Phoenix-based Fast and Furious operation came under scrutiny when it was revealed that officials lost guns used in the sting, which was designed to help authorities arrest Mexican drug cartel leaders.

The guns ended up being connected to crimes, including one in which a Border Patrol agent was killed, according to Sen. John Cornyn, who offered the amendment. “Operation Fast and Furious not only claimed the life of a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, in December 2010, we know that this ill-conceived program resulted in guns being found at the crime scenes at 11 different locations in the United States and jeopardizing the relationship we have with our friend to the south, the country of Mexico, when these guns were destined, according to a U.S. government program, for the hands of the drug cartels,” the Texas Republican said.

He called the program “ill-conceived and poorly thought-out” and said that questions remain over what Attorney General Eric Holder knew and when he knew it.

“We need the attorney general to come to Congress and to come clean and tell us what he knew and when he knew it, so that the people of America can hold him and whoever else is responsible accountable,” Cornyn said.

The Senate also rejected 44 to 55 an amendment from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would eliminate trade adjustment assistance for companies. The TAA program provides job retraining and aid to U.S. workers, farmers, communities and companies negatively affected by government trade policies. TAA also provides grants to companies, which McCain also opposes.