House Passes 12 Committee Bills to Strengthen our Security
Washington, D.C. – This week, the House of Representatives passed various legislative proposals that are the direct result of recommendations from the Homeland Security Committee’s Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry to the United States final report, including efforts to strengthen our defenses against terrorists attempting to enter the homeland. Additional Committee bills on the House floor this week will bolster transportation security and enhance border security operations, among other things.
Chairman McCaul: “America continues to face serious threats both at home and abroad. Despite crushing the caliphate in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has continued to demonstrate its capability to inspire attacks on the West, including here in the homeland. The two terror attacks in New York City late last year are stark reminders of this reality. Given the nature of this evolving threat, I established the Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry in to the United States to examine terrorist infiltration, identify challenges with current U.S. government information-sharing and vetting procedures, and review our screening agencies’ structure and bureaucracy. Legislation to address the challenges we identified is critical as we work to better secure the homeland against those who seek to do us harm.”
Legislation passed this week includes:
H.R. 4569, Counterterrorism Information Sharing Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), directs the President, acting through the DHS Secretary, to ensure that, for counterterrorism purposes, DHS has access to biographic and biometric data collected by the U.S. government on individuals associated with a terrorist organization. It also directs the President to ensure that all relevant departments and agencies coordinate with DHS to minimize any administrative, technical, capacity, or classification challenges that may exist.
H.R. 4555, DHS Interagency Counterterrorism Task Force Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), adds additional authorities for the DHS Secretary to coordinate with other federal departments and agencies overseas. Specifically, it authorizes the Secretary to assign DHS personnel to participate in overseas interagency counterterrorism task forces in order to facilitate counterterrorism information sharing and combat the threat of terrorism to the U.S. stemming from overseas sources of conflict or terrorism.
H.R. 4564, Post-Caliphate Threat Assessment Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), requires DHS, working with its interagency partners, to conduct a threat assessment of current foreign terrorist fighter activity. The assessment must include information on foreign terrorist fighter travel and trends, destination countries, and changes in activity in Iraq and Syria.
H.R. 4581, Screening And Vetting Passenger Exchange Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), directs the DHS Secretary to develop best practices for utilizing Advanced Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record data for counterterrorism screening and vetting operations. It also directs the Secretary to make the best practices available to certain countries, including Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries, and provide assistance to those countries in implementing the best practices.
H.R. 4577, Domestic Explosives Detection Canine Capacity Building Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), develops a domestic explosives detection canine breeding program that will allow TSA to expand the use of explosives detection canines at airports and transportation hubs across the United States. This bill will allow for more strategic sourcing of explosives detection canines, while streamlining the acquisitions process and saving taxpayer dollars.
H.R. 4567, DHS Overseas Personnel Enhancement Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), builds on previous Congressionally-mandated oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s global footprint, while ensuring that overseas DHS personnel are effective in sharing counterterror information with U.S. government and foreign partners. This bill seeks to ensure that the global deployment of DHS personnel is both strategic and risk-based.
H.R. 4561, Security Assessment Feasibility for Equipment Testing and Evaluation of Capabilities for our Homeland Act, sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), eliminates existing bureaucratic bottlenecks at the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration by allowing for third-party testing of new security screening technologies. This authority will increase the opportunities for small businesses and technology start-ups to participate in the TSA acquisitions and procurement processes while driving innovation to improve aviation security.
H.R. 4559, Global Aviation System Security Reform Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS), bolsters ongoing efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to raise the global baseline on aviation security by directing a review of existing security policies and best practices. This legislation will direct TSA to work towards harmonizing international security standards while building security capacity among foreign partners.
H.R. 1486, Securing American Non-Profit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2017,sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), authorizes the Non-Profit Security Grant Program for the first time, recognizing the impact of this program on the security of non-profit organizations at risk of terrorist attacks, many of which have recently seen an increase in threats.
H.R. 4433, Securing Department Of Homeland Security Firearms Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), requires the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop and oversee policies meant to better secure firearms and other sensitive assets among the components of DHS. This bill supports recommendations made in a recent Office of Inspector General report (OIG-18-05) entitled, “DHS’ Controls Over Firearms and Other Sensitive Assets.”
H.R. 4578, Counter Terrorist Network Act, sponsored by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), requires CBP to collaborate with appropriate federal, state, local and tribal entities to enhance border security operations to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal and foreign terrorist networks. The bill authorizes the detail of CBP personnel to other international and domestic agencies to prevent the entry of terrorists into the United States.
H.R. 3202, Cyber Vulnerability Disclosure Reporting Act, sponsored by Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX), requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a report on cyber vulnerability disclosures.