The House of Representatives approved Tuesday evening a landmark intelligence reform bill designed to better coordinate government efforts to provide intelligence and counter terrorism. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX/Rockwall) praised the bipartisan support for the bill, which passed by a vote of 336-75 and was the final measure to be considered by the 108th Congress.
"I am pleased to see the Congress come together at the end of a highly partisan year to enact this important legislation," Hall said. "This was a top priority for the President and a bill that is vital to improving efforts to protect our homeland. Our current intelligence operations were established some fifty years ago - and in the wake of 9/11 and the war on terrorism, a major reform was in order."
The intelligence reform bill creates a director of national intelligence and a counter-terrorism center to plan intelligence and combat terrorism. It creates an oversight board to ensure individual liberties, increases the number of border guards and immigration agents, sets minimum standards for issuing driver's licenses in the States, and supports new aviation security programs.
"These provisions will enhance our intelligence capabilities and provide vital coordination among government agencies," Hall said. "We still must deal appropriately with immigration reform as part of homeland security concerns, and the Speaker has given his assurance that this would be considered next year."
"With the election behind us, we must come together to solve the critical needs facing our Nation at the local, State, and Federal levels," Hall said. "Our local governments need help in expanding their infrastructure and attracting new businesses that will create more jobs. Our law enforcement and our schools must have the resources they need, and our citizens need quality and affordable healthcare."
"A priority for me as chairman of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee will be to enact national energy policies that put America on course for more energy independence," Hall stressed. "Congress was not able to agree on a comprehensive bill this year, so I plan to work to pass a series of stand-alone bills that will include energy conservation, production, and reliability."
"The President's top priorities include reform of our tax code and Social Security - both worthy goals that will require much discussion and input from citizens. I have been a long-time supporter of abolishing the current burdensome and punitive tax code and replacing it with a system that is simpler and fairer. Social Security has been one of the most successful Federal programs in our Nation's history, and we must find a way to ensure its viability for generations to come," Hall said.
"These issues will require both parties working together for the common good," Hall said. "We need to avoid personal partisan attacks. My opponent in the November election, Jim Nickerson, ran a clean campaign. He debated the issues but was never critical of me personally or of the President. I look forward to working with local officials, community leaders and citizens on both sides of the political aisle to support those goals that will be beneficial to all of Northeast Texas."
"As we wind up the 108th Congress and look ahead to the 109th Congress, I hope we can come together to deliver good results for our Nation," Hall said. "I will continue to do my part and work for bipartisan solutions."