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Byrne seeks to slash budget of agency responsible for Fast and Furious gun trafficking scheme

Posted on June 3rd, 2015

WASHINGTON — Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) introduced an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Tuesday which would have cut the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) by 20 percent, saving taxpayers approximately $250 million annually.

“Let me make one thing clear: I know that the ATF has an important mission to play in keeping our nation safe and regulating everything from firearms to alcohol,” Congressman Byrne said in a speech on the U.S. House floor. “That said, in the last few years we have seen an outrageous growth in operations and regulations coming out of the ATF.”

Over the last several years the Bureau has come under fire for “Fast and Furious” which knowingly sold weapons to members of the drug cartel in Mexico, and Operation Fearless, a faux store-front sting operated by ATF agents attempting to catch criminals.

“How could we forget the Fast and Furious gun trafficking scheme that was allowed to go so far off track that 2,000 guns were allowed to flow to Mexican drug trafficking groups,” Byrne asked in his speech. “Worst of all, a federal law enforcement officer was killed with a gun from the operation.

“There was Operation Fearless, where an undercover operation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin went horribly wrong. Convicted felons were given access to weapons, the fake storefront was burglarized and $39,000 in merchandise was lost. The ATF even used someone with developmental disabilities in the operation and ultimately arrested him for his involvement.

“From Wichita, Kansas to Portland, Oregon to Atlanta, Georgia, the stories of botched operations and inappropriate action just goes on and on.

“Then there was the ATF’s recent attempt to reclassify common M855 ammunition as armor-piercing despite its exemption from this classification since 1986 for ‘sporting purposes.’ Thankfully this proposal was dropped after pressure from Congress.”

Byrne particularly stressed the importance of reining in federal spending and overreach to his constituents in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

“Mr. Chairman, the people I represent in Southwest Alabama are tired of a federal government that doesn’t live within its means. They want to see their elected officials in Washington get serious about making cuts to the federal bureaucracy.

“My constituents also are tired of executive overreach and the federal government involving itself in areas where it simply doesn’t belong.”

While Congressman Byrne’s amendment was ultimately not adopted, the committee will continue to consider the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, leaving open the door for other cuts and reforms.