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Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act of 2010

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4842, the Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act, which will authorize needed funds for important activities and programs within the Department of Homeland Security to help make our country more secure.

* This bill is the product of extensive bipartisan work dating back to last summer, which includes input from numerous stakeholder meetings, the Department of Homeland Security, and the House Committee on Science and Technology.

* I want to recognize the work of Chairwoman Clarke--the author of the bill--and Ranking Member Lungren, whose Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology marked up this bill on March 16 and reported the bill favorably by voice vote.

* The Full Committee then considered this bill and reported it unanimously by a vote of 26-0 on April 15, 2010.

* We appreciate the Majority working with us in a bipartisan way, and including a number of provisions of importance to Republican Members.

* These provisions include the establishment of research initiatives to bolster border and maritime security, development of tools to enhance resilience to terrorist attacks and other incidents, especially in rural communities, research and testing of technologies to help secure the border and ensure the safety of our underground mass transit systems, and an assessment of how useful rapid screening tools for influenza and other biological threats would be at our border ports of entry.

* I also want to highlight a very important provision in this bill that is critical both to the security of New York City and surrounding areas as well as to our Nation as a whole, which is the authorization and expansion of the Securing the Cities program.

* Securing the Cities is a vital homeland security program to help prevent terrorist attacks in major cities using nuclear or radiological weapons, like a dirty bomb. The program has enabled the establishment of a networked ring of radiological detectors on highways, toll plazas, bridges, tunnels, and waterways leading into and out of New York City, which as we have seen, is the top terror target for al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations.

* Securing the Cities is both a regional capability and a national asset. The program provides the operational capability to interdict a radiological or nuclear weapon in one city so that it cannot be delivered to and detonated in another.

* Recent attacks on New York City came from other regions: Najibullah Zazi traveled from Denver to New York City in a plot to possibly bomb the subway system and Faisal Shahzad traveled from Connecticut to New York and attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square.

* The detonation of a nuclear or dirty bomb in the New York tri-state area, or in any major metropolitan area, would inflict serious damages to our country's economy, much like the 9/11 attacks did.

* Securing the Cities is a successful program that can and should be replicated in other areas around the country. That is why language in this bill would expand the program to at least two additional high-risk cities where these capabilities are most needed, leveraging what we have already learned about building defenses against nuclear and radiological weapons in New York to erect similar security perimeters in and around other cities.

* Securing the Cities is an excellent example of the type of coordination between Federal, State, and local partners that Congress has demanded and the Department has worked to facilitate. We absolutely must enhance our nuclear detection architecture in a world where the threat of nuclear terrorism is on the rise.

* The House has voted in favor of the Securing the Cities program on four separate occasions. These include last year, when the full House supported similar language when it passed H.R. 2611 under Suspension of the Rules by voice vote on January 20, 2010. The House again voiced strong bipartisan support when it adopted an amendment Representative Clarke and I offered in June 2009 to H.R. 2892, the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, to restore funding for this vital program.

* House passage of this bill will reaffirm the continuing bipartisan support for this program in the House and send a strong signal to the United States Senate to pass legislation to authorize Securing the Cities prior to adjournment of the 111th Congress.

* I want to remind our colleagues that the threat of nuclear or radiological terrorism is real. The WMD Commission warned in 2008 that an attack using a weapon of mass destruction was likely to happen somewhere in the world by 2013. Commissioners Graham and Talent repeated this warning before the Committee on Homeland Security on April 21 of this year.

* The President's National Security Strategy that was released earlier this year concluded that ``the American People face no greater or more urgent danger than a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon.''

* The potential of nuclear or radiological terrorism is a nightmare scenario that we must guard against with every available capability and resource. Authorizing and expanding Securing the Cities will help better protect our country from such danger.

* Let me close by saying while I am pleased we are considering this bill today, I believe the House should be considering a comprehensive authorization bill for the Department. The House has not done so since 2007, with one of the reasons being too many committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction over homeland security issues.

* The 9/11 Commission recommended in 2004 that ``Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security.'' The current jurisdictional web of congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security results in conflicting guidance to the Department and is a serious drain on its time and resources.

* The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission--Governor Kean and Congressman Hamilton--have testified this jurisdictional maze is unworkable and could make our country less safe.

* I hope that we can streamline congressional jurisdiction moving forward so that Congress can enact a comprehensive authorization bill for the Department, which has not happened since its creation in 2003. The failure to do so jeopardizes our ability to ensure that our nation's homeland security policies are as robust as they need to be to meet the evolving nature of terrorist threats.

* I again want to thank Chairman Thompson, Congresswoman Clarke, and my friend from California, Mr. Lungren, for crafting a very good bill that will help improve our homeland security capabilities.

* I urge my colleagues to support passage of H.R. 4842.

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