Today, the House of Representatives passed important legislation to strengthen homeland security by improving funding for disaster preparedness, better securing our borders, and streamlining Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programs and management. H.R. 6025, H.R. 5913, H.R. 5997, H.R. 915, and H.R. 6328, 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 these important bills to assist in protecting our first responders, aid our veterans, continue to improve the security of our borders, and ensure the Department of Homeland Security is managed with efficiency as it carries out its mission to protect the lives of Americans. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to also pass this vital homeland security legislation."
H.R. 6025 - Mandatory Operational Control Reporting and Performance Measures Act of 2012, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, directs the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), as part of DHS's annual performance report, to submit annual reports to Congress on the number of miles of international land and maritime border between the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico that are under operational DHS control, cumulatively and by sector.
Subcommittee Chairman Miller said: "For years, Congress and the American people relied on operational control as a proxy for border security. It became the de facto term of art that indicated how much or how little of the border the Border Patrol could effectively control. But at last count, only 44% of the Southwest border was under operational control, and less than 2% of the Northern Border was adequately secured. In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security stopped reporting the number of miles of border under operational control with the promise of a new, more holistic measure of border security called the Border Condition Index. Nearly three years later, we are still waiting for the introduction of that measure without any idea if it will ever be used.
It is time for the Department to provide a suitable measure that adequately captures the security situation on the border. Until then, the Department should resume reporting miles of operational control. It boils down to trust, but verify."
H.R. 6025 passed the House, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 5913 - DHS Accountability Act of 2012, introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, establishes an independent advisory panel to comprehensively assess the management structure and capabilities related to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and make recommendations to Congress to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of DHS management. Additionally, the bill directs the panel to examine and streamline DHS procedures, practices, and programs in order to ensure efficiency. The bill was previously passed by voice vote from the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management.
Subcommittee Chairman McCaul said: "The simple fact is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is dysfunctional and there are doubts it can carry out its core mission of protecting the homeland. Our hearings determined there is corruption, waste, duplication, and abuse of power. These are all symptomatic of deeply rooted flaws in the department's management. What's needed for DHS is a top-to-bottom management review to identify the root causes of these challenges, recommend changes, and save taxpayer dollars. I appreciate the support of our Subcommittee's Ranking Member, Congressman Bill Keating, for co-sponsoring this legislation. By passing this bipartisan legislation, the House took an important step towards making DHS a more efficient and effective organization."
H.R. 5913 passed the House, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 5997 - Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act, introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to codify the use of Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program funding for enhancing medical preparedness to protect first responders, their families, and immediate victims from a chemical or biological event.
Subcommittee Chairman Bilirakis said: "Experts have repeatedly noted that the threat of a WMD attack is real. We must work to ensure plans, medication and equipment are available to protect the public, including emergency response providers, in the event of an attack. The legislation passed by the House today recognizes the continued importance of ensuring medical preparedness activities remain allowable grant uses. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this bill signed into law."
H.R. 5997 passed the House, as amended, by a vote of 397 to 1.
The House also passed:
Senate Amendment to H.R. 915 - 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, and the House by a vote of 391 to 2. The bill passed the Senate, amended, on September 22, 2012. Today, the Senate Amendment passed the House by a vote of 397 to 4, and will now be presented to the President for his signature.
H.R. 6328 - Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, introduced by Rep. Kathleen Hochul (D-NY), a Member of the Homeland Security Committee, directs the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to transfer unclaimed clothing recovered at airport security checkpoints to local veterans organizations and other local charitable organizations. Today, the bill passed the House, as amended, by voice vote.
For more information on the legislation passed today, visit the Committee on Homeland Security website.