Higgins' First Bill Clears House Panel
Higgins spoke briefly — about a minute, his spokesman said — on the DHS Acquisition Authorities Act of 2017, which he filed Feb. 28, before the House Committee on Homeland Security, to which he is assigned.
Higgins spokesman Chris Comeaux confirmed Wednesday that the bill passed through committee and may go to the full House as early as this month.
"It's a commonsense bill," Comeaux said. "The committee did a handful of bills like this today to increase accountability and how the department operates. They got them all through fairly quickly."
Comeaux said Higgins' staff, which has been together for barely two months, was excited by the bill's quick movement forward.
"That's a testament to the legislative staff and Clay's ability to build relationships in that committee," he said.
The freshman congressman, a Republican from Port Barre, said he filed the bill because it was apparent to him and House colleagues that “our major acquisitions programs are unaffordable and inefficient.” He said the Government Accountability Office told him most major acquisition programs — those that cost $300 million or more — encounter “cost growth, schedule slips, or both.”
A 2016 GAO report, done when Homeland Security said it would spend some $7 billion in major acquisitions, suggested widespread spending problems. Homeland Security acquisitions wound up on the GAO’s “High Risk List.” A GAO spokeswoman said that when the department was formed, more attention was placed on getting security programs in place quickly than in accomplishing things within budgets.
Higgins’ initial bill suggested specific department officials should oversee major programs.
The bill was scheduled for “mark up,” or vetting and improving, Wednesday. It passed by voice vote.