The House today passed H.R. 2701, the Intelligence Authorization Act, which included an amendment by Congressman John Barrow (GA-12). Barrow's amendment, which was included as part of the Manager's Amendment to H.R. 2701, develops a grant program that will partner members of the U.S. intelligence community with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to promote the ethnic and linguistic diversity needed by our intelligence agencies. H.R. 2701 passed the House 235 - 168.
"There's no doubt that terrorism training grounds are spreading throughout the world," said Barrow. "We've got to do everything we can do to counter this threat. Many HBCUs have the capability and the security-related courses to provide students with an academic foundation for a career in the American intelligence community. This amendment will help bridge the gap between HBCUs and the intelligence community, which is important to our national security."
With the emerging security threats throughout the Middle East and in many African nations, the importance of creating and maintaining a highly-trained, ethnically and culturally diverse workforce has become a top priority for American intelligence agencies. Barrow's amendment will provide HBCUs with the funds to create study abroad programs in areas of particular security concern to the United States, develop new foreign language programs, and create programs for the study of analytical methodologies, cryptography (the study of deciphering codes), and computer science.
"This amendment represents a win-win situation," said Barrow. "Not only will HBCUs receive new funding to train folks who will be serving on the front line, protecting our national security, but our intelligence agencies will be gaining more highly-skilled, educated employees.
Congressman Barrow's floor statement on his amendment to H.R. 2701 is below:
I rise today to commend the Chairman for including in the Manager's Amendment my amendment to develop a competitive grant program that will encourage the U.S. intelligence community to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to recruit, train, and retain an ethnically and culturally diverse intelligence workforce.
We face a diverse and growing array of threats around the globe. As the means used by our enemies become more advanced, so must our defenses. Cultural, language, and educational barriers affect the quality of intelligence we can gather, and it's critical that our intelligence community has the human assets to overcome these barriers.
The area of Georgia I represent is home to several HBCUs with specific expertise in languages and computer sciences. Engaging these centers of academic excellence, as this amendment does, will produce more sophisticated intelligence officers, who in turn will make our country more secure.
I want to thank Chairman Reyes for his work on this important legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.
I yield back the balance of my time.