House plans vote on bill targeting federal trespassers

The bill, H.R. 347, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 11. It would allow for fines and/or prison terms of up to 10 years against anyone who knowingly enters restricted buildings "without lawful authority to do so." The bill would also allow criminal penalties against people who knowingly intend to impede government business, blocks access to the building or attempt to damage the building.

Current law allows for criminal penalties against those who trespass on federal property, but there is no law specifically addressing entry into the White House or the vice president's residence. As a result, the government has resorted to using a limited Washington law to address these cases.

The House plans a vote on the bill under a suspension of House rules, which will require a two-thirds majority of voting members. The House plans to take up three other bills under suspension that relate to the judiciary:

H.R. 368 — Removal Clarification Act of 2011. This bill would allow the prosecution of a federal official that begins in a state court to be moved to a U.S. district court.

H.R. 386 — Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2011. Prohibits the aiming of laser pointers at aircraft and allows for fines and/or prison terms up to five years.

H.R. 394 — Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011. Would amend the judicial code to hold that U.S. district courts do not have original jurisdiction over civil actions between U.S. citizens and non-U.S. residents. It would also treat corporations as citizens of the foreign states in which they are incorporated.

-- This post was updated at 12:43 p.m. to clarify details on the legislation.

More in House

Funding bill struggles for votes as government shutdown nears

Read more »