Statement in Support of Carson's Rios ATF HQ Bill, April 20, 2016
the Honorable André Carson
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
H.R. 4957, To designate the Federal building located at 99 New York Avenue, N.E., in the District of Columbia as the "Ariel Rios Federal Building"
Full Committee Markup
April 20, 2016
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to see that my bill is being considered by the Committee this morning. I appreciate that Subcommittee Chairman Barletta, and several members of our Committee agreed to be an original co-sponsors of this bill. As mentioned, this bill would name the current headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) after Special Agent Ariel Rios.
Special Agent Rios was killed in 1982 while working as an undercover agent trying to unravel a drug ring in Miami, Florida. As a former law enforcement officer, I have a special appreciation for how officers put their lives on the line every single day. When law enforcement officers walk out of the door, leaving their families for the day, they are putting their lives at risk in a fundamental way.
In 1985, Congress saw fit to honor the ultimate sacrifice that Special Agent Rios had made. Congress acknowledged the fact that he was the first ATF agent to die in the line of duty by naming the headquarters of the ATF Building, the “Ariel Rios Memorial Building”. This name stood for nearly 30 years, until the building was renamed for President Clinton in 2012 to reflect the fact that it now houses the Environmental Protection Agency.
It seems fitting that we’re considering this bill 21 years after the Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred on April 19th, 2016. That tragedy forced Congress to reassess the security of federal buildings, and a new and more secure ATF headquarters building was authorized and constructed. Unfortunately, the Ariel Rios name was not transferred to the new ATF headquarters. My bill seeks to correct this omission and name the new ATF headquarters as the “Ariel Rios Federal Building”.
We often grant former federal judges, past presidents, and other high ranking political figures the honor of having their name grace federal buildings to recognize their public service. However, I believe it’s just as important to honor everyday citizens like Special Agent Rios, who at great risk, worked in public service to protect the citizens of this nation.
In closing, I am very pleased that so many members of our Committee, from both sides of the aisle, have agreed to co-sponsor this legislation, including Ms. Norton, Ms. Brown, Ms. Napolitano, Ms. Edwards, Ms. Comstock, Mr. Curbelo. I am also honored that Mr. Rogers, the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee supports this bill. Former President H.W. Bush has written Congress in support of naming this building after Agent Rios, as well as several former directors of the ATF, and several other organizations representing former law enforcement officers. One of those former directors, Brad Buckles, is here today. He’s walked these hallowed halls for two years working to restore the Rios name to the headquarters building.
I am proud that this legislation is being considered today and urge my colleagues to support my bi-partisan bill honoring Special Agent Ariel Rios.