Trump signs bill into law allowing warrantless searches in parts of VA, MD and DC

Text buried in a bill Trump signed into law reportedly means the government can enter and search private property without a warrant in parts of Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

Trump signs bill allowing warrantless searches in parts of VA, MD, DC

Did Congress pass and President Trump sign a bill that allows warrantless searches of homes without hardly anyone noticing? The answer is yes, according to the Free Thought Project, which reported:

A bill that will allow homes to be searched without a warrant was passed with overwhelming support by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Trump—and it happened with no media coverage and very little fanfare.

The House Joint Resolution 76 was signed into law on Tuesday, Aug. 22, by President Trump. The text seems fairly yawn-worthy, starting off with: “Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.”

CNN explained, “This law lets Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia form a new panel called the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to oversee safety of the D.C.-area public transportation Metro train system.”

The new safety commission will take over from the Federal Transit Agency (FTA), which has been in charge of safety oversight for the Washington Metropolitan Area Interstate Compact (WMATA) since October 2015.

“We’ll set this up and get the FTA out of Metro. They are happy to get out, and we’re happy to get them out,” Metro Board of Directors Chair Jack Evans told Bloomberg BNA. “I’m glad we got this thing. If nothing else, we’ll get our money.”

The money Evans referenced is “an estimated $15 million in withheld federal transit funds from fiscal 2017. The FTA has been withholding transit formula funds from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia’s transportation departments since February,” Bloomberg reported.

None of that seems especially startling, but the Free Thought Project reported on “one major red flag buried within the text of the bill” that would give the newly formed commission “the authority to enter property near the Metro Rail System ‘without limitation’ and without a warrant, for the purpose of ‘making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing.’”

The text reads:

In performing its duties, the Commission, through its Board or designated employees or agents, may: Enter upon the WMATA Rail System and, upon reasonable notice and a finding by the chief executive officer that a need exists, upon any lands, waters, and premises adjacent to the WMATA Rail System, including, without limitation, property owned or occupied by the federal government, for the purpose of making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing as the Commission may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this MSC Compact, and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass.

When the bill previously went through Congress, only five Congressmen voted against it. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted:

Three hundred ninety-nine Congressmen gave it the thumbs-up, and 29 couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. Apparently, they can’t be bothered to stand up for the people or the Constitution. After all, the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. As Amash pointed out, the government will now be able to bust into private property without needing a warrant based on probable cause.

As Rachel Blevins wrote on the Free Thought Project, “While it may only affect the Washington, D.C., metro area now, it could be laying the blueprint for future legislation across the country.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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