Issue Position: Fighting Terrorism at Home and Abroad
For years, terrorism was a distant reality for most Americans. The events of September 11th forever changed America. We must take major steps to strengthen our national security and undermine the threats that America faces worldwide.
I have supported two important pieces of legislation that will improve our ability to undermine terrorist activities and strengthen our national security.
H.R. 1, Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act, was the first piece of legislation considered by this Congress. I was an original cosponsor of this very important bill, which implements recommendation made by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to strengthen America's national security. Some of these regulations include important changes to aviation and port security, including increased funding for airport security improvements and screening of all incoming cargo bound for U.S. ports. The bill also increases grants to carry out initiatives to improve interoperable emergency communications, and improves information sharing among federal, state and local governments and first responders. It also reforms the risk-based allocation formula which provides federal funding to the states to ensure that states, such as New York, which is a larger terrorist target, receives increased funding.
I also supported the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2008, which included nearly $34 billion in funding for important national security programs and agencies. This bill increases the number of border security agents under Customs and Border Protection Agency by 3000 to meet the needs of securing America's borders. Important to our local ability to address emergency situations, the bill provides $570 million for Firefighter Assistance Grants which help local first responders to purchase critical equipment and $230 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program which provides grants for local hiring and training of first responders. This funding bill is an important step in implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations and providing state and local law enforcement the tools to truly act at first preventors of terrorist attacks.
As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, I have a unique opportunity to address the issues with America's military efforts to address terrorist threats.
I believe we must refocus our foreign policy and military forces to concentrate on special operations to disrupt terrorist activities combined with diplomatic activities to strengthen America's position in foreign countries and freezing of the financial assets that allow these terrorist groups to function.
I believe that we must maintain America's ability to confront and undermine terrorism through intelligence gathering programs worldwide while preserving our Constitutional civil liberties here at home. That is why I supported the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) bill supported by the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. This legislation would strengthen the FISA program and give the Administration the tools they need.