As Brian Doherty noted below, on Tuesday the House passed H.R. 347 [pdf], officially known as The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. Now all it needs to become law is President Obama’s approving signage.
Contrarian standbys Congressmen Justin Amash (R-MI) and Ron Paul (R-TX) voted nay, but the bill passed 388-3. Rep. Amash wrote that the the bill “violates our rights”, but Michael Mahassey, the communications director for the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Thomas J.Rooney (R-Florida), sounding irritated on Wednesday (while he implied that I was not the first person to call and ask about it). Mahassey called the reaction to the bill “a whole lot of kerfuffle over nothing. This doesn’t affect anyone’s right to protest anywhere at any time. Ever.”
H.R. 347, said Mahassey, is simply a DC-centric update of already existing law. Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, already protects those under Secret Service protection — except in Washington D.C. where these protections fall under local laws against trespassing, etc. Mahassey said that the Secret Service requested the changes to this law because “right now it’s not a federal violation to jump the fence and run across the White House lawn, this bill makes it a federal violation.”
But there’s reason to worry says Will Adams, the deputy chief of staff for Congressman Amash. Yes, the law updates as Mahssey said. It brings the DC trespassing violations under the federal umbrella and “Amash has no issue with that.” But also does imply something else which inspired Amash to vote “nay.”…
The article continues at Reason.com
Update: Justin Amash isn’t afraid to walk his own path, at Roll Call Politics