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Chairman Green Delivers Opening Statement in Committee Markup for Legislation on Confucius Institutes, Global Entry, and Combating Bioterrorism

November 8, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-FL) delivered the following opening remarks during a Committee markup on
H.R. 1516, the “DHS Restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Entities of Concern Act;” H.R. 6174, the “DHS Biodetection Improvement Act,” “DHS Biodetection Improvement Act;” H.R. 5969, the “Improving Travel for Families Act;” H.R. 4403, the “Securing the Cities Improvement Act;” and H.R. 6231, the “Department of Homeland Security Policy Issuance Review Act.” Watch the full Committee markup here.

Watch Chairman Green’s opening statement.

As prepared for delivery:

To all of our members, especially Ranking Member Thompson, thank you for your cooperation leading up to today’s markup. I’m encouraged by the work we did to get to this point, and I am confident that at the end of the day, every member of this Committee will be proud of the legislation we advanced. This markup reflects our mutual commitment to secure the homeland and improve the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The five bills we are discussing today all deserve broad support. 
First, we will consider, H.R. 1516, the DHS Restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Entities of Concern Act. As the members of this Committee know, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses Confucius Institutes on university campuses to spy on Americans. 
In May, the FBI confirmed to the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence that the Chinese Communist Party is working to steal academic research at American universities. And as FBI Director Wray stated, Confucius Institutes are platforms for the CCP to disseminate communist propaganda, encourage censorship, and restrict academic freedom on our campuses. H.R. 1516 will ban DHS funds from flowing to American universities that host a Confucius Institute or maintain a relationship with a Chinese entity of concern. It’s going to mitigate the risk posed by the Chinese Communist Party to our institutions of higher education.
Last week, a Government Accountability Office report showed that some universities reported closing Confucius Institutes mainly in response to the potential loss of federal funding. Universities are starting to realize the threat the CCP poses, but now is no time for Congress to let up. Congress has previously acted to prevent DOD funding from going to universities with Confucius Institutes. We must make sure similar actions are taken by the Department of Homeland Security.
I want to thank Congressman Pfluger for his work on this bill and his efforts to expose the threat of this adversarial and dangerous regime. I encourage all my colleagues to vote yes on this legislation.
Next, we’ll consider H.R. 6174, the DHS Biodetection Improvement Act. For some time, there have been questions about the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security’s Biowatch program. That’s why, in 2019, DHS launched a new acquisition program to move into the next generation of detection of biothreats and to replace the Biowatch program with new and more reliable technology. However, DHS has not used all the resources at its disposal, including the national laboratories housed within the Department of Energy.
H.R. 6174 would ensure DHS is doing everything it can to improve bio-detection research and development, including requiring DHS to explain how it plans to use the Department of Energy National Labs. Congressman Strong, thank you for your work on this bill. I hope all the members of this Committee see the need for it and support it today.
I’m also proud to support H.R. 5969, the Improving Travel for Families Act, which will streamline the customs process for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers screening travelers at airports and for families returning from international travel. This bill will allow children ages 10 and under traveling with a parent or guardian who is a Global Entry member to accompany the parent through the Global Entry lane at the airport. It would also allow a parent applying for Global Entry to schedule a single interview for up to four children. I know this bill will make things easier for our CBP officers working at airports and for American families coming back home. Thank you, Congressman Luttrell, for proposing this bill.
Then we’ll move on to H.R. 4403, the Securing the Cities Improvement Act. Since 2007, DHS has operated the Securing the Cities Initiative to help cities prepare for and respond to nuclear or radiological threats. Congressman Carter’s proposal would remove the requirement for a jurisdiction to be designated as a “high-risk urban area” by FEMA. His bill would also require DHS to establish performance metrics and milestones for the STC program to track its performance and monitor its expenditures. Thank you for your work on this, Congressman Carter.
Finally, we’ll consider H.R. 6231, the Department of Homeland Security Policy Issuance Review Act. DHS should be reviewing its policies and directives every two years. Unfortunately, DHS is consistently failing to update its policies in an appropriate timeframe. Because this Department can’t seem to do its work on time, Congress must step in. DHS has a quarter of a million employees and is still months or even years late in reviewing and updating policies; something has to change.
Congressman Ivey’s bill will provide better oversight and accountability of DHS by establishing a formal and timely review process of policy decisions addresses this problem and requiring DHS to give Congress an annual briefing on the status of its policy review process. Thank you, Congressman Ivey, for your work on this legislation. I know it will help the Department run more efficiently.