[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 39 (Tuesday, March 6, 2018)]
[Pages H1416-H1417]


  Mr. BLUM. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 3737) to provide for a study on the use of social media in 
security clearance investigations.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows

                               H.R. 3737

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Social Media Use in 
     Clearance Investigations Act of 2017''.


       Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this 
     Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
     shall submit to Congress a report on the examination of 
     social media activity during security clearance 
     investigations, including--
       (1) the current use of publicly available social media in 
     security clearance background investigations;
       (2) any legal impediments to examining publicly available 
     social media activity, and whether those impediments are 
     statutory or regulatory in nature;
       (3) the results of any pilot programs to incorporate social 
     media checks in such investigations, including the 
     effectiveness and cost of such programs;
       (4) options for widespread implementation of the 
     examination of social media activity during such 
     investigations; and
       (5) estimates on the cost for such options as part of--
       (A) all Top Secret investigations; or
       (B) all Secret and Top Secret investigations.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Iowa (Mr. Blum) and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Connolly) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Iowa.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BLUM. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Iowa?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 3737, the Social Media 
Use in Clearance Investigations Act of 2017, introduced by the 
gentleman from Florida, Representative DeSantis.
  According to the Pew Research Center, 7 in 10 Americans use social 
media today. A significant portion of those Americans' personal and 
professional interactions occur online. It is just common sense that 
the government should check the social media of individuals who apply 
for security clearances, but it doesn't.
  H.R. 3737 will move the government toward implementing checks of 
social media for individuals we trust with our country's most sensitive 
  The bill requires a study of the use of social media in security 
clearance investigations to inform government-wide implementation of 
social media checks. The study will provide comprehensive information 
on existing pilot programs, lessons learned, and costs.
  We must begin the process of strengthening the system now, and that 
starts with determining best practices for moving forward.
  H.R. 3737 will help ensure that government checks social media before 
issuing security clearances.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONNOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I think this bill is long overdue and recognizes the 
internet world in which we live and operate.
  This bill would require the Director of the Office of Personnel 
Management to issue a report to Congress on the use of social media 
checks in background investigations for security clearances.
  In recent years, a number of agencies have begun pilot programs to 
help develop the best methods of incorporating social media into those 
background checks. For example, the Army initiated a pilot program that 
found that while checking social media is a

[[Page H1417]]

valuable tool, it can be costly and may raise some legal issues.
  This bill would require that OPM conduct a comprehensive study on 
those issues and report back to the Congress. This one-time report 
would describe the current uses of social media postings for 
investigative purposes and any legal concerns or impediments that may 
arise. In addition, the report would summarize the results of any pilot 
programs on the use of social media conducted to date and provide cost 
estimates for implementing their widespread use in background 
investigative processes.
  The report would greatly assist Congress, I believe, in determining 
whether further legislative action is needed when it comes to the 
Federal Government's use of social media in background investigations.
  This bill was approved without opposition by our committee, the 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, last year, and I 
certainly commend it to our colleagues today.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Lynch for their 
leadership on what I think is a commonsense measure that will actually 
improve the process.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge every Member to support the bill, and I reserve 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. BLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida (Mr. DeSantis), the sponsor of this bill.
  Mr. DeSANTIS. Mr. Speaker, in the private sector, if an employer is 
going to hire somebody, a lot of times they will do a Google search, 
they will check social media postings to try to learn a little bit more 
about this prospective employee.
  It may be hard to believe, but the Federal Government often fails to 
conduct a simple internet search on individuals before they are trusted 
with a security clearance.
  Publicly available social media is one of the best ways to understand 
an individual's interests and intentions, but our investigatory process 
still focuses on interviewing the applicant's family, friends, and 
neighbors. For over a decade, various agencies, including the Office of 
Personnel Management, have conducted studies and pilot programs to 
assess the effectiveness of social media checks in security clearance 
investigations. Congress has not been provided those results.
  What this bill will do is it will require these agencies to identify 
best practices so that we can use this going forward to make sure that 
the people who are employed by this government, armed with a security 
clearance, who have access to sensitive information that puts the 
security of the country at risk, that these are people whom we want to 
have there and they are not folks who have ulterior designs.
  A lot of times it is going to be much more informative to look at 
their publicly available writings than to talk to somebody who may have 
lived next door to them in an apartment 10 years ago.
  I think that this bill is overdue.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Massachusetts (Mr. Lynch) for 
cosponsoring it for me, and I am proud to be here today as the sponsor. 
I think this should have bipartisan support. I think it will give us 
some good answers and we can move forward and modernize this process.
  Mr. CONNOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, in closing, we think this is a commonsense bill. I agree 
with the sentiments just expressed by our friend from Florida that, in 
today's day and age, we can't not take cognizance of social media, and 
it can be a useful tool in evaluating someone's security clearance 
  We also understand it could be a tool that is used to invade people's 
privacy, and we want to avoid that. That is why what this bill does is 
call for a report looking at all of the legal ramifications and the 
practicality of utilizing this tool to get to a better outcome in the 
process of security clearances.
  Mr. Speaker, I support the bill and commend it to our colleagues.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BLUM. Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of the bill, and I yield back 
the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Blum) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 3737.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.