WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Clay Higgins’ (R-LA) comprehensive bill H.R. 2825, “The DHS Authorization Act of 2017,” passed the House today with wide, bipartisan support (386 – 41). The bill was led by Chairman McCaul with Rep. Higgins serving as the only original cosponsor.
The United States faces dynamic national security challenges brought forth by radical Islamist terrorists, human traffickers, drug smugglers, and nation-states waging a silent war in cyberspace. Since the original authorization 15 years ago, DHS has never been reauthorized, leading to inefficiencies and lack of congressional oversight.
This comprehensive reauthorization asserts Congress’ Article I oversight authority, streamlines and consolidates programs, protects taxpayer dollars, holds DHS more accountable, improves national security, and supports front-line defenders.
“Our bill goes a long way in ensuring that DHS remains mission ready to continue protecting our homeland,” said Rep. Higgins. “The bill’s boots-on-the-ground approach is of particular importance to me. As a law enforcement officer and having recently traversed all 1,954 miles of the southern border, I have spoken with many of our nation’s Border Patrol agents, and have seen first-hand the need to reauthorize DHS and its component agencies. I would like to thank Chairman McCaul and his staff for their work on making the reauthorization package a reality. National Security is an issue that effects every man, woman, child, Republican and Democrat in our nation.”
“Our adversaries are determined to attack us and disrupt our way of life. To stay ahead of America’s threats, we need a national security apparatus that can best adapt to new challenges as they arise. The threats we face have evolved in the past 15 years, and we must not only keep up with the evolution of the threats, we need to stay in front of them. The American people deserve the strongest possible and most efficient Department of Homeland Security, and this legislation will help provide just that,” said Chairman McCaul. “Today’s reauthorization of the Department is a major bipartisan accomplishment and an example of what Congress can achieve when we put the safety and security of our country ahead of partisan politics.”
By reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security, we will:
- Ensure the Department’s structure and missions are best linked to securing the homeland;
- Authorize U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the first time;
- Reauthorize the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), FEMA, TSA, and the U.S. Secret Service;
- Reforms DHS’ acquisition processes to ensure billions of taxpayer dollars are better safeguarded and tools to secure the homeland are delivered efficiently;
- Streamline offices within DHS headquarters and redefine their respective responsibilities;
- Replace and modernize the Coast Guard’s aging assets;
- Enhance cybersecurity training and threat defense;
- Dedicate resources and enhanced training to first responders countering evolving terrorist threats;
- Integrate existing DHS intelligence systems and data sets into for enhanced vetting and screening procedures.
“I would like to thank the Committee for its continued leadership, notably, in seeking to reauthorize the Department,” said DHS Secretary John Kelly. “I appreciate your efforts, especially in securing the Memorandum of Understanding, which will help facilitate the reauthorization we currently need. The threats and challenges have changed since Congress created DHS some 15 years ago. We need to update the authorities to successfully complete our mission today.”
The bill has been endorsed by the American Conservative Union, the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group, the American Public Transportation Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Fusion Center Association, Project Management Institute, and the United States Conference of Mayors.
“Over and over again, the GAO has labeled the acquisition and management program at DHS as ‘high risk.’ These warnings were ignored by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. The reforms in these bills will make a start at bringing taxpayer accountability to management to DHS and you and the Homeland Security Committee should be commended for continuing to press for reforms,” wrote the American Conservative Union.
“The IAFC appreciates your leadership in ensuring that local first responders are prepared to mitigate the increasing number of threats facing our nation. An effective response by local first responders at the beginning of a terrorist attack will help save lives and reduce the success of an act of terrorism. This legislation will help the nation’s fire and EMS personnel prepare for these threats,” wrote the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
“The Group expresses full support for bipartisan Congressional efforts to authorize the Department of Homeland Security. This would mark the first authorization of the Department since its creation nearly fifteen years ago. Authorization should strengthen the Department by requiring it to be better – more effective, more efficient, and more responsive – while allowing the Secretary maximum freedom of action and flexibility to lead and manage the Department and to carry out its important mission of protecting the homeland and the American people,” wrote the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group.
“We commend your consistent and aggressive efforts to find ways for Congress to foster improved collaboration and coordination by Federal, state, local, and private entities to protect the homeland,” wrote the National Fusion Center Association.