Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act (S. 419).
Chairman Goodlatte: In 1976, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Act. The Act was designed to offer peace of mind to men and women seeking careers as public safety officers namely – that if something happened to them in their dangerous roles, their families would have support. It shows that America places enormous value on those in our communities who protect and serve, whose response to danger is to face it head-on, and who put others before themselves, daily.
The PSOB program, administered by the Department of Justice, provides death benefits in the form of a one-time financial payment to eligible survivors of public safety officers who have died in the line of duty. The program also provides benefits to public safety officers who are permanently and totally disabled because of injuries sustained in the line of duty. Finally, the PSOB program provides financial assistance to help pay higher education costs for the spouses and children of public safety officers who have died or been injured in the line of duty.
It is a program that is meant to help the loved ones of fallen officers move forward in the aftermath of tragedies. Unfortunately, in recent years, the PSOB program had some incidents of delay, and some families were left in the dark about the status of applications. These families were unable to move forward after their tragic losses and we recognize that is not acceptable for a family that has sacrificed so much for their communities.
Legislation was introduced in the last Congress, and again this Congress as S. 419, to address these regrettable failings. This bill provides for transparency in the processing of claims in the PSOB program and codifies measures to ensure the system is streamlined and operates in a fair manner.
I commend my colleagues for their work and strong support of these law enforcement families. I’d especially like to commend Mr. King of New York for his unwavering support of the families of law enforcement.
In his second inaugural address, President Lincoln reminded the American people to “care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.” This legislation is designed to do exactly that for the brave men and women in blue who protect and serve all of us every day.
Yesterday, this bill passed the Senate unanimously. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.