tv Homeland Security Officials Testify on U.S. Commercial Flights to Cuba CSPAN May 19, 2016 1:50am-2:54am EDT
that the agency doesn't do more to punish people who are stealing from the agency, who even plead guilty to criminal theft and they still have the right and privileges on the shoulders of taxpayers to continue working for the agency. i cannot wrap my mind around this. this committee has heard time and again of the epa literally plagued with constant employee misconduct. yet at the same time, epa routinely goes after businesses across this country for much and throwss offenses fine after fine after fine to often are doing virtually nothing in comparison. we are stories of this is all the time for slight -- stories of businesses all the time for
slight infractions. here we have the epa having employees involved in criminal behavior, and they just get 30 day suspensions or less. it is an absolute hypocritical double standard. it is disgusting, not only to me , but the american people are fed up. they get slapped time again with fines because the latter is in the wrong place or whatever the slight infection might be. yet you guys are putting up with .his it is totally unacceptable to me, mr. chairman. i believe the epa wants the trust, they've got a long ways to go to get their house in order. i yield back. >> i think you jim and from georgia. mr. carter is a recognized. mr. carter: thank you, mr. chairman.
mr. sullivan in march of 2014, and epa employee was arrested and indicted for marijuana possession. it is my understanding that this employee had a girl operation and was arrested on felony session charges. i believe you highlighted this in your november 2015 report, that on the epa's use of taxpayer dollars for extended administrative leave for employees who had been suspended for misconduct. according to that report, this employee was placed -- are you listening? this employee was placed on administrative leave for seven and a half months. is that correct? >> yes. >> tell me that is not correct. >> that is correct, sir. >> he was charged with tony possession -- with felony
possession. he had a girl operation and he was put on administrative leave had aid for seven -- he grow operation and he was put on administrative leave and paid for 7.5 months. -- >> that is correct. that is a new policy. >> i will get mr. my berg. a new policy implemented after this? >> yes sir. >> it would not have applied then? >> the 10 day limit did not apply. >> that is why we paid him for 7.5 months. >> i can explain -- that -- why would the epa do this? explained to me that.
congressman, i cannot speak to the particulars and what judgments were made? >> who can? we need them here. >> that would have to be the regional office. makes these decisions? you know we need here, somebody who we can fire. that is who we need here. who makes this decisions? are made byisions employee supervises or their division director. final decision is made by a deputy who is a career appointee. >> who do they answer to echo >> regional administrator. >> and he said the magic word, "career appointee." -- you said the magic word,
"career appointee." >> it seems you are matter of fact, that is right, that is the way it supposed to be. did you not indicate the epa needed to change some of their policy and protocols echo -- protocols? >> yes, recommendations were made. >> are they ready? >> there being implemented. >> when they will be implement it? >> they are being implemented now? leave -- unless there is approval by a seasoned administrator --
have you ever worked in the private sector? >> not for many years. i thought i was going to have an opportunity but it did not work out. >> i suspect there is a story there. do you think they would tolerate this in the private sector? >> i cannot speak to the private sector. >> i can because i am in the private sector. or was. madenow, my colleague just the point, you go and you find people -- we got the answer today as to why they are being find because we have to pay people on demonstrated leave. -- on administrative leave. i got the answers i need today. thank you both. mr. chairman, i yield. >> the general from georgia, i recognize ms. lawrence from michigan. .s. lawrence: thank you
we've heard discussion today about the new process for information sharing and the dramatic improvement in the management response to misconduct. i want to applaud the agency and the ig for your work and streamlined the disciplinary process. on hearing often focused negative. it is good to hear about the positive changes that are occurring. failures that we have been hearing about, prior to the changes, i do applaud you. i want to focus on another policy change that took place in the epa regarding administrative leave. i also want to note that this is the sixth hearing that this committee has held over the past two congresses on the management
of employee misconduct issues at epa. right?i am i saying that i am pleased to hear the new policy increases oversight over the placement of employees on administrative leave during misconduct investigations and educations. the new epa policy also requires managers to document alternatives to administrative leave that were considered. and why they were deemed not feasible. isn't that correct? >> that is correct, congressman. alternatives should managers consider before placing an employee on demonstrated leave? >> -- employees on administrative leave?
-- if it turns out the investigation will impede their ability to perform their regular duties. that is the first place you look . do you expect this new policy to reduce the amount of time that employees are placed on demonstrated leave -- on administrative leave? is that the goal? >> concern about the abuse of initiative leave and we want to curtail that practice. -- >> the fact that requests are not coming for it by itself, it is a good sign of the policy going in place.
a risk to the safety of epa employees. -- the federal agency. labor relations and really have the responsibility of looking at how the -- how do you deal with separating inappropriate behavior but respecting the rights of an employee. it is a delicate mix. yet to hold employees again -- you have to hold employees accountable. i want employees held accountable. it is our expectation at every employee is a citizen of these united states. they have rights and the agencies should have -- and i am glad to hear that you reviewed these processes to make sure they are consistent. they are not up to phlegm of a manager. we are there to do the work.
my taxhe work that dollars and every other americans expect to happen. i will continue -- i hope we don't have to have six more hearings on this. i will continue to stay focused on looking at what we are doing. i expect for you to continue to monitor this and be proactive and make sure the epa with all of the budget cuts that we are doing, that epa is doing the work we need them to do to protect our environment. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> i think the gentlelady from michigan. now recognize mr. palmer. i think we have the will covered some of the problems the epa, regarding sexual misconduct. there are other forms of employee misconduct that i want to address.
specifically about investigations going on in the birmingham, alabama, area involving the epa, in which improperlyave acted in conducting the investigation. specifically, seeking access to property without getting the permission of the owner. actually intimidating people who are buying houses on the property. i have an affidavit here. affidavit here which one of the people reside on the .roperty made these allegations officials at the epa approached to seek mission to test the property. the official presented me with a document to allow them to sample the yard. he revisited was acting very intimidating in forming that i needed to sit -- i needed to
sign the release over even though i did not own the property which is a clear violation. i felt very intimidating and compelled to sign even though i did not want to do so. upon signing the release, asked the official what was so urgent and try to obtain access, the thedoes responded epa discipline employees in such an aggressive manner? do you punish that? ordeal encourage that? >> when an allegation occurs of misconduct, we investigated.
agents 11 -- agent sullivan specified one of the things that occurs is the investigation does not find any wrongdoing. takest does, it appropriate action. >> i like to point out this is not the only affidavit like this. there are several others. we are not going to release him. believe it is appropriate for the epa personnel to pressure and intimidate citizens and endorsing -- and endorsing epa agenda. >> i am not familiar with the specific -- at sign >> the pacific's here -- the specifics -- and the official intimidating matter and told the
whole point in the investigation was to shut down a legal business. isn't that how the epa does business? you encourage your employees do that? do you allow them to intimidate? are you aware that this goes on? >> congressman, again, i'm not familiar with the specifics of the cases. >> i am asking you in general. >> we ask employees to behave .ith professional conduct >> but they do not always. you think it is appropriate for an pleased to shut down a legal business? >> our job is to go out and enforce a law to mature people protect those laws. >> let me tell you, i've got a number of issues with epa, how they do business, how they handle their investigations. senator richard shelby sent a
mccarthy administrator and heather mcteer tony back on every 26 of this year asking for a from it -- back on february 26 of this year asking for -- got a letter back saying with respect to your concerns about epa , unfortunately, epa cannot engage in a levels of discussions with any third party . i bet the memorandum here. -- i've got the memorandum here. that seems to me to undermine my oversight ability. i intend to look into this further. i would like to enter my letter and the epa's response into the record. orderedut objection, so
. >> i yield back the balance of my time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. kelly is recognized for five minutes -- ms. kelly is recognized for five minutes. >> misconduct from a few bad apples gives all the other federal employees a bad name. as elected officials, we can relate. our goal is to ensure agencies .ct quickly and fairly this committee has worked with agencies to improve and streamline their internal procedures by preserving employee rights. today we read about the new -- we heard about the new policies. mr. sullivan, you state since the hearing in april 2015, the agencies internal adjudication process has "genetically improved," is that correct? >> yes.
>> these changes have occurred through process, not through legislative changes. is that correct? >> yes, congressman. have sufficient tools under current laws to deal with allegations of misconduct, like the ones we have heard about today? >> i do believe -- we can always do better and we try to do that, but we believe we have the tools we need in the agency to execute effective conduct and discipline . >> it is important to remember that due process protections are there for a reason. in may 2015, the merit system of protection issued a report that stated "more than a century ago the government operated under a system in which employs could be removed for any reason, including membership in a different political party. the result of such a system was
retention. retention decisions based on favoritism. constitutional due process arose from the law and congress enacted to fix that can system. system.hat broken >> we believe we can address serious misconduct through the application of our processes that do protect the process. >> mr. sullivan, do you agree to that? without a legislative change, it is possible that improvement can thatde then an agency streamlines the disciplinary process? >> i agree with that. i can say from my personal experience, the biweekly meetings have genetically improved the process here to >> thank you. it can say that agencies currently have the tools to deal with allegations of misconduct, but they sometimes do not use them as efficiently as they
could. how thishat is committee can help agencies improve their procedure. thank you and i yield back the balance of my time. >> i think the gentlewoman from illinois. i think much -- i recognize myself for five minutes. miss sullivan, thank you for your work within the epa. -- mr. sullivan, thank you for your work within the epa. -- efforts to bring about accountability within the agency and we recognize your progress while still acknowledging there are still many ongoing challenges within the agency. we know the long-term reform and improvement for personnel management requires more than just new procedures and updates to manuals good it requires active support from the leadership to foster a culture of integrity, accountability and best practices. would you agree? >> yes sir.
>> your currently serving in one of the top positions at epa? >> yes sir. >> you're pretty astute about the law? >> i am not a lawyer and i would not make that claim. articulate -- you are pretty article it. >> that is not for me to judge. >> you are the administrator that made the decision that case and you are pretty familiar with personnel management, right? >> over the course of my career i've had a number of conduct cases come before me as a deciding official. >> could you describe and summarize your job description today? agency's chief operating officer and i perform the duty that are just duties that are assigned to me. -- duties that are assigned to me. should understand the
law, right? -- find >>am serving you should understand the law. you're predicating this on understanding the law. those underneath should befall you. you have also been nominated by the president. act, the federal vacancy do you --? >> i am aware of the legal case you're referring to. i am assured by counsel that my services lawful. cooks do you realize that in such a situation your actions have no force or effect on the law? you're the ceo. you are applying these laws. i would like to have the name of the council that give you that information echo is a total desk? it is a total violation of federal statutes. it is a total violation of
federal statutes. -- after you have been nominated . are you concerned that your actions can be challenged given they have no [indiscernible] under law. >> i've been under counsel and have been assured -- >> it is contradictory to federal law. you believe you should step down given that the law says your actions have no force? cooks i've been consulting with counsel -- >> i've been consulting with counsel. --i want the names of those it does not surprise me. epa and desk epa under this president has a long history of layton violations of the law.
-- a numerous occasions, administrative mccarthy not only of the law by lying to congress but she also lied to the american people. perjury before congress is perjury before the american people. you actually sitting here to that officeeo by the president is an affront to that. that is why i have introduced articles of impeachment to remove administrator mccarthy from office. i think you should step down as well. you cannot serve as an acting official when you're nominated to fill that post permanently. it is against the law.
the personal management within the pa is a mess. that is no surprise when the agency officials are willful lawbreakers themselves. you create that culture. that is why you are set up accordingly. that is why it is going to be nice -- we figured a way to make sure the proceedings go to the floor. to make somebody atone for their actions. it is a mess and it is sad. you should know the rules better . that goes along with counsel. i would expect those names of all those households -- all those counsel for review. i think you and i am disgusted. i now recognize the gentlewoman from the district of columbia, ms. norton. you.orton: thank to get back to one of the themes of this hearing, i have been interested to hear about the
testimony given on the coronation between the epa and the ig. the reason that interests me is we want to reduce the time that employees spend on admin should i amsullivan, interested in funding available to the agency to do the job that needs to be done in investigating. can you tell me what the teaming levels are for the that investigates misconduct
allegations? quest yes ma'am. i can tell you -- >> yes ma'am. i can tell you in general, the current -- 289 employees. that is dropped from 360. in my office, i had 70 65 years ago. i am down to 61. , iause of the uncertainty have not been able to hire back up to 61. i now have 55 full-time. the rest are professional support staff or scientists or computer forensic people. i have five agents assigned to our office of professional responsibility here in washington. those agents work misconduct investigations. in the field, i have another 34 agents that work not only misconduct investigations, they also work most of the grant and
front cases are the bread and butter of the ig. people that have stolen the money, the grant money, the contract money the epa has put out. i have full five-time test five full-time agents -- five full-time agents. >> staffing levels like this, it reminds me about what we are seeing with the tsa. i can't believe this is because -- i think at some point congress should understand that if you want people to do your job, there has to be a certain number of people to do it. the tsa has been under great criticism because they have not always been able to keep according to the gao weapons
from getting through. that is an interesting case. this, of course, is another level of complexity. you going to have to ask candidly how can these investigators keep on cutting corners with these kinds of staffing levels you described that apparently have changed during your time at the agency? ma'am, i have seen no evidence of any of my agents cutting corners. what i have testified to is that i am concerned that cases take way too much time to come to conclusion, because frankly, it is like the analogy of the when do the planes land? investigation -- >> is not the only responsibility of the ig?
>> we have front cases, threat cases. --are possibly juggling obviously we prioritize everyday. we investigate and handle the most important cases first. you still have to take care of the other cases. >> what about the nonemployee misconduct related investigations? factst of our cases are in non-misconduct. 60% of our cases are a combination of fraud, threat, assault cases or theft. theft by outsiders. some getting into a federal facility and stealing computers. >> there is a limit. i think we are beginning to see what the limits are. i wish you luck. >> i think the gentlewoman. i now recognize mr. wahlberg.
>> thanks mr. chairman. this is not the first time this committee has looked at the epa for its questionable practices. that is an issue that i would like to address. epa has been notorious for having extremely long delays in responding to requests. one of our witnesses in a previous hearing, mark edwards, a water expert, professor at virginia tech, testified that he waited several years for his request to be completed. many of his requests were filled the day after he appeared before this committee. --t committee on the flint committee on the flint water issue.
this case should diminish the public's confidence in the pa ability -- the epa's ability to be open and transparent. why does take the epa -- why did it take a piece along to fill of these requests? >> one, we take the responsibilities very seriously and we have found in recent years there has been an increase in the number of foia requests we have received. >> when was that team initiated? >> the team was initiated within the last year. >> are we seeing improvement? ? >> we are working very hard. i do not have any specifics today. ask appreciate that, because i know you've got to get a lot of requests.
given with a very emotional issues, waters of the u.s., flint water crisis, where government failed at all levels and people have been hurt. they are emotional issues in with requests that the one, but there are reasons why epa has been brought in front of us on several occasions during with foia. that on to purchase cards was introduced and i believe my -- and i believe our chairman's opening comments. how can epa keep better track of the purchase cards and usage of those cars are your employees. employees. your to put in place better systems in keeping track of activities they keep -- that
take place on purchase cards. we feel like we have made progress on this in the last couple of years. on the financial audit, we had -- we are always continuing to follow-up and make sure we have appropriate systems in place to detect any misconduct. >> why is it that epa employees spend thousands of dollars of epa taxpayer money on personal expenses can get away with not having to reimburse the agency? are -- wesman, we share your concern about that. the cases that are before us -- today oures cases that were over years ago. >> the particular individual over $22,000 in
international roaming charges abroad, willning that employee be required to reimburse the agency? >> i'm glad you brought the case of because we are going back to try and make another effort to recover the costs. >> what is the challenge? >> the challenge is going to be to determine which calls the employee meant made back to the agency. we need to ensure we can separate those out. >> mrs. sullivan, can you add any information to that? >> the individual actually resigned before we presented our findings to the agency. as a follow-up, the agency determined it was too difficult to decide how many may have been work-related. recently the ack back to us in april -- recently the agency
.ame back to us in april >> i hope a second look would be taken at it. in the end, if there is fraudulent or criminal involvement with this employee, i would hope we could get after them. if not, we would appreciate you telling us and how we can assist you in making a long place? becaused is put on them people who are willing to miss purposes.use their cards and tools they have. help us out with that. >> i thank the gentleman. i recognize the gentleman from south carolina. >> i want go back and follow up on a couple of questions that were raised during your discussion with mr. palmer. he was talking specifically
about circumstances and alabama, where there was an allegedly overzealous epa employee. we hear this all the time. it ranges from the terms overzealous to sink down, depending on who you are talking to. the question that did not get asked is this, has anyone ever been fired for doing that? >> congas men, i cannot cite a -- congressman, i cannot cite a specific example. -- is in fired for >> overreaching. somebody using their position -- enforcing the law is what we hire you folks to do. occasionally, it is possible that a bureaucrat might overreach. they might not like the person they're dealing with.
they might not approve of the business. ice to be a real estate developer. i assure you there is a lot of folks who like to hug trees who do not approve what i to do. he is at power that the government gives them as an employee of the state to say you know what? i am going to push a little harder. i'm going to stick it to this person. do you remember a single circumstance of anybody at the epa being fired? >> i appreciate your observation about the job of law enforcement is not a popular job, designed to make everybody like you. i'm not alert -- i'm not aware of the case that is similar to what i'm hearing you say of someone who is overused their authority and subsequently terminated for that reason. >>'s to sell them they are allegations of that example --
mr. sullivan, if there are allegations of that example of someone misusing their authority , would that be something the ig would look at? >> it could. >> i'm using his as an example. he knows much more than i ever will. my question is more general. have you ever investigated allegations of overreaching authority on behalf of nepa employee? >> yes. >> do you call anyone being terminated for those actions? >> off the top of my head, i cannot recall specifically, but for example, we had allegations of people using their position to get a favor. something that is not readily available to an average citizen.
those type of instances. people may have used government property to personal gain. misused the government vehicle and funds. >> there was a fairly high-profile -- high-profile to employee to lent out a piece of equipment to an environmentalist group. are you familiar with that? . >> and the person was not fired>> -- and the person was not fired. >> was not fired. >> what does it take to get fired from the epa? what do you have to do? do i have to kill somebody or shorter than that? >> it can be shorter than that. there are cases where we have done terminations. the behavior involved are unpleasant and not the kind of
thing you would ever want to have an employee and gauge in. -- engage in. on a case-by-case basis and considering the employee's due proven rights, you have the process that you do terminate employees. that weognize the fact are speaking in generalities, but if you had to estimate -- when you are dealing with andgations of impropriety, you determine them to be valid allegations, what percentage of people quit or retire versus get fired? >> congress -- >> if they retire they get to
keep the benefits? >> there are very limited cases with treason, espionage or aiding terrorist groups. manager, you manage people. would it make your job easier if we gave you the additional tool to deny people who have been found to have acted improperly, to deny them some or all of their benefits even if he choose retirement or resignation over termination? >> i think we have the abilities and existing administrative tools to appropriately address misconduct. i would want to make sure we're using those tools. >> if we gave you this additional tool, it would help you? >> that would be speculation. i really could not say.
>> i know recognize the gentlewoman from the virgin islands for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman, good morning. during last april's hearing, the chairman highlighted what he called management failures at the epa. i wanted to discuss what has occurred since last april. it's my understanding that the epa has taken significant steps to address weaknesses in the disciplinary trust us. don't know that firing people means you are a good manager. you may be a poor manager who has to fire people rather than bring them up to speed. but your testimony described the progress of the epa has made as a result of the work in this
committee and especially ranking member cummings, we have improved a relationship with oig. would you care to elaborate on that statement? >> only to say that this has been a two-way street and we feel that we have reached out to the inspector general's office and they have reached out to us in pursuit of a common objective which is that we want to make sure that employees are held accountable and misconduct cases are dealt with appropriately. >> how is that different from your relationship previously? for theld not say agency as a whole but i think there has been reached out on both sides and it is commendable. >> mr. sullivan, would you agree with that? i will quote from you that the agency's internal adjudication process has dramatically improved.
is that correct? >> yes. i will exclude the difference prior to having this biweekly meeting. if we had a misconduct investigation in denver and san francisco, the folks at headquarters would have little visibility on that and it may languish for months or years. now, every investigation pending across the agency will meet biweekly and the case may be languishing and san francisco or seattle. they have visibility on it and are pushing along to make sure those cases are addressed appropriately and expeditiously? >> you would say they are moving at a much faster pace to closure than previously? and you have quantitative evidence of that? >> yes.
i can tell you that within the past year -- the agency has determined what disciplinary action to take and we have successfully closed out at a much higher rate. we cannot close out until we hear from the agency as to what we're going to do. with theven satisfied recommendations they've made? >> our job is to collect the facts in a fair and balanced manner. it is not relevant whether i think it is appropriate or not. >> you said that the process you're describing -- you quote, i believe this process can service the best practices model for the federal government. is that correct? >> yes ma'am. they are taking an effort to reach out to the entire community using the epa as a model to educate the rest of the ig community that maybe there is a way to get these cases moved faster governmentwide.
>> i think that would alleviate this committee having to have as many hearings as they have to these other agencies and we can did on the actual work of congress. you support efforts to encourage governmentwide adoption of this? and your option -- your office would be willing to work with this committee to do that? caveat, the epa, we are somewhat unique in that we do not have any subcomponents. there's one epa and one ig. if you take us to the department of justice they have multiple subcomponents and the model we have probably would not work in a deployment with multiple subcomponents? -- subcomponents. >> have you thought about what would work? ma'am. >> we have to get you thinking on this. it seems that your shown that better coordination can help
agencies take administrative action more quickly. i'm grateful for the work you have done since april from the first hearing to actually address many of these issues and move these cases along to closure. having managed many people, i necessarilye that firing people is the measure by which one determines you have done a good job in terms of dealing with misconduct. i'm grateful for the work you have done and i yield the balance of my time. >> a couple of housekeeping measures. we would like to know how many employees on the epa get bonuses? >> i also want to make sure we have the names and titles of the people who gave you the permission. i would expect those in two weeks.
it cannot be very many. one last thing, mr. sullivan. are you aware of the federal vacancies reform act? >> in general terms. >> are you aware of anybody who had the same plausible conflict that has been made aware of today in this committee? no, i'm generally aware of the issue involving mr. my bird but we were told it's not an issue based on their counsel opinion, but we have not investigated that issue to my knowledge. >> to we have the names from the people that you consulted at the epa? our counsel office, i was briefed it is an issue but i will get back to the committee on that to our counsel's office and i will let you know. >> i guess i'm a gentleman here who is recognized for five minutes.
>> with that i would love those them to two weeks as well. the council the talked about that and any other cases. >> did not speak directly to anyone from the epa counsel. i was just briefed in my office. i believe we were at a meeting and this issue came up. according to the agency general counsel it is not an issue and that's what i was told. >> i would like to know from your counsel that they instructed that this was not a problem. you do see the conflict. bething that mr. my berg may implementing may be no and void based on the premise that it is placed there. the culture we are building is predicated on the culture that exists at the top level because you lead by example and that's the problem in this application. chairman, i'm sorry i was
over on the four did i get to hear some of this, but i am curious. i have read some of the material about some of these employees who have an walking all of this pornography for hours at a time and employees who have admitted stealing thousands of dollars from the epa. have any of these employees been fired? congressman of the cases that we looked at here, many of the employees are no longer with the agency. there are cases where people proposed for termination and resigned. >> and you don't have any employees now at the epa who have been found to have stolen money or spent hours watching pornography and so forth? they have left or resigned? >> there are employees who have
been resigned or who have been terminated and there are employees who have been disciplined and other means. some of them are still with the agency. >> in what way do you discipline somebody like that? >> congressman there is a wide range of disciplinary action available to the presiding official based on a consideration of all factors, based on how long they were at the agency, the severity of the crime or the severity of the misconduct and they can go all the way from reprimand to suspension to a reduction in grade. >> i'm assuming that you changed some of these policies to make sure that this type of activity does not continue in the future? changed a number of policies. the staff briefed the committee staff on policies and changes we've made particularly with the
journal,'s washington live every day. coming up thursday morning, congressman reid ribble joins us to talk about the fight against isis and whether the u.s. should be arming libya in an effort to help defeat the terrorist organization. he will discuss other issues and his thoughts on the election. and then gene green will be on to discuss public health issues like zika and the opioid crisis as well as the future of the
2010 health care law. be sure to watch washington journal and to join the discussion. busur campaign 2016 continues to travel throughout the country to recognize winners of the student cam competition. recently it stopped in massachusetts to visit several winning students from that state. all the students from first to eighth grade attended a ceremony . the bus also made a stop to paul and ludlow to recognize honorable mention winners and the winning video called veteran services. james elliott won for his title called lgbt writes, stop the discrimination. cableial thanks to our partners, comcast cable and charter communications for
helping to coordinate these visits within the community. >> good morning and welcome to bbc parliament's lied -- live coverage of the state openg of parliament. the queen will open the second session of this parliament and it is the 66th parliament of the united kingdom. in this morning we welcome viewers from c-span, our sister channel. i reckon it is about 5:30 a.m. on the eastern seaboard. it's a conservative government beginning at second year in office.
government not without its problems that faces the upcoming european referendum campaign. we are focusing today on the british tradition. with me to help that journey myng, i am joined by conservative fear, michael lord dobbs, kate williams of reading diversity and the former sergeant at arms from the house of commons, lawrence ward. you are tired from your post last quarter? >> i wish i had retired, i've gone on to another job. >> among those attending today is the prime minister who left downing street a short time ago. here he comes, the doors of number 10 open and the prime
minister has actually been the leader of the conservative party for 11 years now and we have also seen the arrival of the leader of the opposition jeremy corbyn. he arrived at portcullis house on the embankment. opening he said the with all its pageantry underlines the democratic nature of our society. thehe debate last month on 90th birthday of the queen he really made a very charming speech saying about himself as a young whippersnapper, i am fully in favor of a country having leaders of a finer vintage. so we are talking today about a highly respected individual who is 90. neverd it is -- you're too late to take up a new career and learn something else.
has to be quite an amazing day for jeremy corbyn to find himself at the state opening. you, if i could turn to the 91st year of the queen. a symbol ofwas continuity, the queen is that simple. >> yes it's true. this is a ceremony that she has engaged throughout her years apart from the times when she was pregnant and in 2011 when the government canceled it. she's been here to the state opening of parliament every year that she can be. pretty much every monarch has been here apart from victoria. >> we're looking inside the chamber of the house of lords now. addressed in this and they do not wear it every day,
apparently. >> every time you see a photograph of the house of lords we are all wearing this, but this is the only day of the year that we wear the traditional uniform, unless we are introducing a new peer. but normally we are just like other people. >> that is reassuring. there are 807 of you nowadays, so there are a lot of ordinary folks. >> it is too big. >> we're briefly looking at the throne. chaird to the left, the andgned for prince charles the duchess of cornwall. there is the earl marshal today. tois talking on the right andarchbishop of canterbury on the left with the beard, the
bishop of london. and then lord williams, a conservative thinker talking i if i -- lord to morning lord demornay if i'm right. >> they are new and old. we had lengthy of young and vibrant life. >> we have plenty of more women than the house of commons. the first proportion of the population is concerned.
>> people are starting to retire. have retired. when does it stop? >> it doesn't stop as long as the prime minister insists on putting fresh people in. it needs an element of self-control to stop jamming the base full of their friends. huge fors historically the house of lords in terms of numbers. we have seen the cutback of the hereditary peers. some sort of restriction on the peers. lawrence, it is 10:45 in the morning. what would at arms, you be doing this time of year -- day? >> probably with the speaker
going to the business of the day. finery.t all be in our >> when do you get dressed? >> 7:30 in the morning. >> it is a different uniform? >> is the same uniform but there is more elegance to it. lace and these colors are so -- so not to the shoulders of the uniform so that it does not slip off. day and by this time you feel as though you have done a day's work. >> and it has a party atmosphere. people are going in and celebrating our traditions. it is the only day that we get dressed up and it is a bit like a fancy dress party as well as being a serious occasion.