Bill would require random background checks after Navy Yard shooting

A new Senate bill introduced Wednesday in response to last month’s Navy Yard shooting would mandate random background checks for everyone with a security clearance.

The legislation unveiled Tuesday by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) would require two automated, random background checks every five years for those who have security clearances.

The senators said the measure was designed in response to the Washington Navy Yard shooting, where the shooter, Aaron Alexis, maintained his security clearance despite warning signs in his record.

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“I don’t know if this would have prevented the Navy Yard shooting, but I know it would have given us a much better chance,” McCaskill said at a press conference.

The measure would require the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) to run automated background checks that would search public records databases for possible red flags.

If anything was uncovered in the review, it would be turned over to the agency employing the individual.

Collins and McCaskill said that the random audits would encourage individuals to self-report potential issues that arise.

“These random audits will send the signal to contractors across our government that if you’re having events in your personal life that impact your ability to hold a security clearance, you never know when the government is going to find out about it,” McCaskill said.

The new bill is one of several legislative efforts in Congress that have been sparked by last month’s Navy Yard shooting, where Alexis shot and killed a dozen people.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing on Thursday looking at security clearances and background checks, and the House Homeland Security panel examined security at federal facilities at a hearing Wednesday.