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Rep. Jackson: Congressmen Need Better Security

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U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Illinois)

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois (CBS File Photo)

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Updated 1/11/11 – 3:14 p.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – The weekend shooting rampage in Tucson calls into question the security afforded to members of Congress — and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. wants to see more spending on security.

Jackson is proposing legislation that increase the budget of each congressman and senator for security by 10 percent.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts reports


“The point is that it should be up to members to determine necessary precautions, and they should have the resources to do that,” he said.

Jackson said it may mean new cameras, locks or entry systems for some members of Congress. For others, it may mean a new office.

Jackson noted that U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush has indicated he will move his district office to a location he considers safer.

Asked if Saturday’s attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-Ariz.) spells the end of the corner congressional office or off- the-cuff meetings with constituents, Jackson said, “I hope not.”

“Direct access to our constituents is an important part of our job,” he said. “I think there has to be an assessment at the local level as to what constitutes a serious threat versus a
non-serious threat.”

Jackson also would like to restore the 5 percent cut last week from lawmakers’ staff budgets because of the hard times. He said that
constituents need more services, not less.

He said he has not yet broached the ideas with the Republican majority in the U.S. House, but expects the measure to get serious consideration. He said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the federal government has secured “every federal facility except for congressional district offices.”

Jackson made the proposal one week after House lawmakers voted 408-13 vote to cut their yearly office allowances by 5 percent in an effort
to get the deficit under control.

Jackson was one of those who voted against the measure. His 2010 allowance, to cover Washington and district expenses, was $1.5 million.

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