This evening, the House of Representatives passed important legislation to strengthen homeland security by improving information sharing between the Federal government and state and local partners and by bolstering border security, in addition to ensuring servicemember and veteran employment opportunities at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). H.R. 1299, H.R. 2764, H.R. 3670, H.R. 915, and H.R. 3140, all within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), have earned bipartisan support.
Chairman King said:"I am pleased that the House has passed each of these important bills, which will serve to further secure our homeland from the ongoing threat of terrorist attack by promoting the sharing of intelligence and information across all levels of government, and by strengthening our border security and combating cross-border crime. Additionally, the legislation passed by the House today protects the rights of the men and women of the Armed Forces who have risked their lives defending our Nation by ensuring that those working for TSA can return to their jobs after the completion of service to their country. I urge the Senate to also pass these vital bills."
H.R. 1299, the Secure Borders Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan to gain operational control of the border within five years, taking into account personnel, technology and infrastructure required to secure the border. The bill previously passed by voice vote from both the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security and the Full Committee.
Subcommittee Chairman Miller said: "For far too many years, our nation has lacked a clear and comprehensive plan to gain and maintain operational control of the borders. My legislation directs the Secretary of DHS to develop a strategy for securing our borders and ports of entry by taking into account personnel, technology, and other resources to meet our nation's security requirements. Our common defense begins with effectively securing our borders, and the American people rightly expect and demand that the federal government take the responsibility to secure the borders."
H.R. 1299 passed the House by voice vote.
H.R. 2764, the WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, provides guidance for DHS to engage in and support intelligence activities related to weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) threats, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. The bill also requires DHS to coordinate with the Intelligence Community on WMD intelligence and to share information with partners at the Federal, state, and local levels. The bill previously passed by voice vote from both the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and the Full Committee.
Subcommittee Chairman Meehan said: "I'm very pleased that the House voted overwhelmingly in support of this legislation. Loose chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria and Libya getting into the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists are cause for great concern; and a nuclear armed Iran is a top national security threat. With multiple al-Qaeda affiliate networks around the world targeting the U.S. and our allies - it is imperative that we remain as vigilant as ever. This bill ensures that intelligence analysis and dissemination regarding dangerous weapons continue to be a priority for our Nation."
H.R. 2764 passed the House by voice vote.
The House also passed:
H.R. 915, the Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act, introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), a senior Member of the Homeland Security Committee, authorizes the establishment of Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) teams, interagency forums designed to combat cross-border crime, which will include representatives from DHS components and state and local governments. The bill previously passed by voice vote from both the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security and the Full Committee. Today, the bill passed the House by a vote of 391 to 2.
H.R. 3140, the Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to prioritize the assignment of officers and analysts to certain State and urban area fusion centers to enhance the security of mass transit systems. The bill previously passed by voice vote from both the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and the Full Committee. Today, the bill passed the House by voice vote.
H.R. 3670, introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), requires TSA to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by reemploying servicemembers in their civilian jobs after military service. TSA was previously exempt from USERRA when it was established in 2001. The bill passed the House by voice vote.
For more information on the legislation passed today, visit the Committee on Homeland Security website.