Tester bill passes first background check
Homeland Security committee passes bipartisan SCARE Act
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester’s bipartisan bill to increase accountability and transparency in the security clearance process unanimously passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today.
Tester’s bill, the Security Clearance Accountability and Reform (SCARE) Act, prohibits federal employees and contractors found to have compromised the integrity of a background investigation from performing background investigations from that point forward. The legislation also forces the government to update its policy determining which positions require a security clearance.
Congress previously passed another Tester measure into law that allows the Inspector General of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to use resources from the agency’s $2 billion Revolving Fund to more thoroughly investigate cases where the integrity of the background check process may have been compromised.
Tester said the approval of the SCARE Act would go a long way toward strengthening the nation’s security clearance process and making the country safer.
“In the wake of Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, the need for reform is clear,” Tester said. “We need to make sure we don’t keep people on the payroll who have compromised background investigations. It also makes sense to take a fresh look at who actually needs a security clearance. Combined with stronger oversight, these improvements will ensure we have a security clearance process capable of protecting our nation and our interests.”
Tester has been a leader in the Senate on efforts to reform the security clearance process. Along with a bipartisan group of Senators, he originally introduced the measures after Snowden, a former government contractor, publicly revealed classified information last June.
The provisions stem from a hearing Tester held later that month that revealed a lack of oversight and accountability is wasting taxpayer dollars and jeopardizing the security of classified information.
Tester’s SCARE Act, which is co-sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) will next be considered by the full Senate.