Republican Utah Congressman Chris Stewart, in referencing the standoff at the Bundy Ranch, said that the Bureau of Land Management does not need a heavily armed police force. In the light of what has taken place in the past couple of weeks, Stewart, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and freshman congressman, says that he will make an effort to cut funding for “paramilitary units” in the BLM, Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies. He will also require these agencies to work with local law enforcement, instead of bringing in their own armed troops.
“There are lots of people who are really concerned when the BLM shows up with its own SWAT team,” Stewart said. “They’re regulatory agencies; they’re not paramilitary units, and I think that concerns a lot of us.”
Stewart, who insists he isn’t taking sides in the Bundy showdown, says he was shocked to see the government’s response and believes it led to the civilian militia that showed up to defend the rancher. But Stewart says agencies such as the BLM should defer to local police for muscle instead of bringing in their own.
“They should do what anyone else would do,” Stewart said. “Call the local sheriff, who has the capability to intervene in situations like that.”
Stewart, a freshman lawmaker seeking a second term this election year, could find powerful friends in his targeting of such special-force units in government agencies. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told WHAS radio of Louisville, that the feds shouldn’t have “48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams.”
The Interior Department stressed Tuesday that the BLM and National Park Service had law enforcement personnel present during the Bundy cattle roundup to provide safety for their employees and the public.
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