Rep. Chip Roy On His Bill H.R. 7270, the Count The Crimes To Cut Act

June 23, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Chip Roy released the following statement Tuesday regarding his bill H.R. 7270, the Count The Crimes To Cut Act

Our nation has too many crimes - by statute and regulation. As a result, we have distracted law enforcement, Americans who don’t even know they are committing a crime, and a loss of confidence in our system of justice.

Every year, well in excess of 50 million Americans have interactions with law enforcement resulting in over 10 million arrests. The vast majority of arrests – roughly 65 percent -- are for low-level, nonviolent, non-drug related offenses.  One has to wonder whether we have over-criminalized life.

In Congress, we should be particularly concerned with criminalization at the federal level. As was said by one law professor, there is probably no one over the age of 18 in the United States who cannot be indicted for some federal crime.  

Task forces and experts charged with looking into this topic cannot even agree on the number of federal crimes on the books.  On average, Congress creates more than 500 new crimes per decade and federal agencies create hundreds more through regulations.  Some have not been used to charge anyone in over 30 years. 

Law enforcement should be focused on public safety and the criminal code should reflect that.  My legislation would require the Attorney General, in cooperation with the agency heads, to produce a full report of all federal criminal statutes and federal regulations that impose criminal penalties.  

For each offense, the report is required to provide the following details:

• The elements of each offense

• The potential penalties for each offense

• The number of prosecutions brought in the last 15 years for each offense

• The mens rea required for each offense

It is time that we count them so we can cut them.  

FreedomWorks: 

“Every law passed by government is enforced at the point of a gun. The more laws there are, the more potential interactions with law enforcement there could be. Over-criminalization in federal law and over-federalization of criminal law are concerns that still, even with the focus on criminal justice reform in recent years, have not been addressed. More concerning, no one has any real idea of the scope of the problem.

A full inventory of federal criminal statutes and regulations carrying criminal penalties would allow Congress to have an understanding of the scope of over-criminalization and over-federalization. We need Congress to get a grasp of the scope of this problem. We applaud Congressman Roy for introducing the Count Crime to Cut Act and strongly urge members, Republicans and Democrats alike, to co-sponsor this legislation.

R Street Institute:

“Overcriminalization, or the expanding number of laws that criminalize nonviolent behaviors, is a significant but overlooked factor in negative encounters with the police. Laws exist to be enforced, but when the law does not actually serve the purpose of promoting public safety then unnecessary interaction with the justice system is inevitable. 

The overcriminalization of America has turned everyday citizens into lawbreakers by adding to our criminal codes and turning nearly every conceivable misdeed into a criminal offense. Taking a survey of Federal laws to understand the full depth and breadth of overcriminalization will be a helpful step in reducing the number of burdensome laws.” – Jesse Kelley, Government Affairs Manager, Criminal Justice Policy for R Street Institute

Heritage Action:

"For decades, Congress and the federal bureaucracy have created obscure, vague criminal laws at a shocking rate. This explosion of overcriminalization allows an expansive federal government to punish ordinary citizens who have no idea what's in the criminal code. I applaud Rep. Roy for bringing attention to this issue and working to rein in the never-ending growth of federal bureaucracy and the deterioration of the rule of law."  -Jessica Anderson, Executive Director of Heritage Action for America

Faith and Freedom Coalition:

“Rep. Roy’s Count the Crimes to Cut Act is desperately needed. There are so many federal criminal statutes and regulations that the Congressional Research Service gave up even trying to count them. If America’s experts do not have a clear understanding of the size or scope of federal criminalization, how can the average person be expected to? The real danger of over-criminalization is it turns ordinary citizens into criminals. Rep. Roy is taking an important step to changing that situation at a critical time.” Patrick Purtill, Faith & Freedom Coalition