Congress Continues to Act to Address the Threat of Radical Islamist Terror
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In light of recent terror attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minneapolis, it’s important to take stock of the hard work the House of Representatives has done and continues to do to address the persistent threat we face from radical Islamist terrorists. The House has passed dozens of bills aimed at bolstering our efforts to fight terror at home and abroad—and the House Homeland Security Committee will continue to lead the charge to do more to protect our homeland and our allies.
Chairman McCaul: “We cannot allow these heinous attacks on our homeland to become the new normal, and we must be clear: our enemy is radical Islamist terrorism, and our war against these fanatics knows no boundaries. We will not cower in the face of this evil. We must act. Here at home, the House will continue working to block all terrorist pathways into our country, keep extremists from recruiting our people, and make sure our frontline defenders are prepared to fight terror when it hits our city streets. America must lead the world in taking the fight to our enemies—wherever they emerge.”
Select Counterterrorism Bills Passed By the House
H.R. 158, Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), enhances security of the Visa Waiver Program to improve intelligence information sharing and to keep terrorists from entering the United States undetected (P.L. 114-113).
H.R. 3503, Department of Homeland Security Support to Fusion Centers Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), would require an assessment of intelligence fusion centers nationwide and would increase accountability in the system for granting security clearances to state and local law enforcement.
H.R. 3598, Fusion Center Enhancement Act, introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), streamlines and enhances information sharing and counterterrorism cooperation with state and local law enforcement nationwide and bolsters fusion centers.
H.R. 4038, American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), would put in place the most robust national-security vetting process in history for any refugee population and it gives the American people the assurances needed that we will do everything possible to prevent terrorists from reaching our shores.
H.R. 4239, Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act, introduced by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), would require the intelligence community to enhance its tracking of foreign fighter flows to and from terrorist safe havens abroad.
H.R. 4240, No Fly for Foreign Fighters Act, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), would require a comprehensive review of the Terrorist Screening Database to ensure past weaknesses have been addressed to identify other vulnerabilities which should be mitigated.
H.R. 4314, Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), would accelerate the transfer of certain border security systems to foreign partner governments and ramp up U.S. efforts to enhance counterterrorism screening abroad—to keep terrorists from reaching America’s shores.
H.R. 4401, Amplifying Local Efforts to Root out Terror (ALERT) Act, introduced by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), “scales-up” efforts to counter terrorist recruitment nationwide by allowing the government to better use existing fusion centers for outreach.
H.R. 4402, Foreign Fighter Review Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), requires top-to-bottom Administration review of instances where Americans became foreign fighters with requirements to identify and close security gaps.
H.R. 4403, Enhancing Overseas Traveler Vetting Act, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), authorizes the development of open-source software based on certain systems of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to facilitate the vetting of travelers against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases, enhances border management, and improves targeting and analysis.
H.R. 4404, Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), requires the U.S. government to conduct an exercise related to terrorist and foreign fighter travel to find and eliminate vulnerabilities in America’s defenses against terrorist infiltration.
H.R. 4407, Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act, introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), establishes the primary advisory board in the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate and integrate departmental intelligence, activities, and policy related to counterterrorism.
H.R. 4408, National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), requires a U.S. national strategy on combating terrorist travel—for the first time in a decade—and requires future administrations to put forward regular action plans for fixing U.S. vulnerabilities to terrorist infiltration.
H.R. 4509, State and High-Risk Area Working Group Act, introduced by Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), better integrates state and local law enforcement and first responders into decision-making about state, regional, and local homeland security plans.
H.R. 4698, Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points and Guarding Airports Through Enhanced Security Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), enhances aviation by requiring airport security assessments and a security coordination enhancement plan.
H.R. 4820, Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act, introduced by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to use the testimonials of former or estranged violent extremists or their associates in order to counter terrorist recruitment.
H.R. 5056, Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. William Keating (D-MA), requires TSA to update risk assessments at airports—specifically along airport perimeters and points of access to secure areas—and report to Congress strategic plans to increase security measures.
H.R. 5460, First Responder Access to Innovative Technologies Act, introduced by Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), establish a review process to review applications for certain grants to purchase equipment or systems that do not meet or exceed any applicable national voluntary consensus standards.
H.R. 5471, Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act, introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), combines three previously passed Homeland Security Committee counterterrorism bills to ramp up efforts to stop Islamist terrorist groups from radicalizing Americans and to combat their propaganda.
H.R. 5859, Community Counterterrorism Preparedness Act, introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), provides assistance to first responders across the country and authorizes grants to first responders so they can receive training and conduct exercises to best position them to prevent active shooters and other threats.
H.R. 5943, Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act, introduced by Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY), clarify certain allowable uses of funds for public transportation security assistance grants and establish periods of performance for such grants.
On the heels of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General report that found the U.S. government had mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants from “special interest” countries of concern to national security, Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced a bill that requires DHS to fully digitize its fingerprint records to ensure these failures do not happen again. Digitizing fingerprint cards would ensure the biometric checks run as part of the citizenship application process correctly identify people who have been ordered removed from this country and prevent them from obtaining citizenship.
H.R. 6087, IDENT Fingerprint Digitization Completion Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), requires the completion of the digitization of all remaining paper-based fingerprint records for inclusion in the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) of the Department of Homeland Security.
As part of an ongoing counterterrorism initiative, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), introduced a measure to enhance Visa screening procedures at U.S. Embassy posts overseas. Under the bill, DHS is authorized to assign counterterrorism personnel to 50 U.S. Embassy posts around the world to vet and screen all visa applicants against the appropriate criminal, national security, and terrorism databases maintained by the federal government. The bill also requires Customs and Border Patrol to utilize facial recognition and other biometric technology when available to screen Visa Waiver Program travelers at airports.
H.R. 5253, Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 along with the Immigration and Nationality Act, to improve visa security and visa applicant vetting.
The Committee has released several other products that shed light on the threat and
provide recommendations for Congress and the Administration
Counterterrorism Strategy: Chairman McCaul’s nonpartisan strategy contains over 100 policy ideas, recommendations, and principles for fighting terrorism. The ideas put forward in the McCaul strategy were developed in consultation with an array of national security experts on both sides of the aisle. They are not “Republican” or “Democrat” ideas, but rather common-sense solutions for better protecting Americans.
Updated Encryption Report: Terror attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Nice prompted significant developments on the topic of encryption with respect to legislative proposals taken by European nations, further illustrating the point that without a robust, fact-based dialogue on the encryption question, legislators world-wide will continue to struggle with the best possible response. Based on these developments and continued engagement with stakeholders, the Committee published an updated version of this report.
Bipartisan Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Report: The Task Force conducted an extensive, six month review to assess the severity of the threat from individuals who leave home to join jihadist groups overseas and to identify potential security gaps.
Terror Gone Viral Report: This report examines the 100+ ISIS-linked terrorist plots against the West—and plainly shows that the United States is overwhelmingly the group’s main target.
Terror Finance Report: This report shows that ISIS’ explosive growth in the past several years stems in part from its ability to control territory and generate massive revenue flows from diverse sources.
Monthly Terror Threat Snapshots: This is a monthly assessment of the growing threat America, the West, and the world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorists.