The House of Representatives last week passed U.S. Representative Martha McSally's legislation to require a stress test of U.S. government protection and prevention programs against terrorist travel. The bill, H.R. 1302 the Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act, incorporates and addresses key findings of the Homeland Security Committee's bipartisan Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel, on which Rep. McSally served as a member.
"The last major government exercise on terrorist travel occurred in 2009. Obviously, the threat environment has changed considerably and relying on information gathered during an exercise that took place nearly a decade ago is simply unacceptable and puts American lives at risk." said Rep. McSally on the House floor. "My bill would require that the executive branch, in coordination with State and local governments, conduct an exercise to evaluate the nation's preparedness against all phases of foreign fighter planning and travel. We must identify weaknesses at home and abroad that may be exploited by terrorists and foreign fighters in order to ascertain how to best address those weaknesses."
The Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel investigated U.S. security vulnerabilities and the threat posed by ISIS for six months and released a report containing 32 key findings and over 50 recommendations to make Americans safe. The findings reveal that Americans leave the country to train overseas with terrorist groups as foreign fighters. The ability of these hardened fighters to return to the United States is a legitimate security threat to the homeland that must be addressed.
By directing the executive branch to conduct stress test to evaluate the nation's preparedness against all phases of foreign fighter planning and travel, H.R. 1302 will reveal how partners at all levels of government--and abroad--are currently responding to these scenarios. The bill also requires the Administration to share the findings-- and recommendations on how to best address these weaknesses--with Congress and federal law enforcement and intelligence officials.
The House unanimously passed H.R. 1302, the Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act, which is Rep. McSally's fourth bill to pass the House during the 115th Congress.