Strengthening the Safety and Security of Our Nation
Our homeland faces threats on multiple fronts.
International terrorists seek to attack our country and kill Americans.
Human traffickers, drug smugglers, and gangs like MS-13, are crossing our borders and infecting our neighborhoods.
Nation states and hackers are engaging in cyberwarfare.
And the next natural disaster can strike at any moment.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I know we cannot afford to let our guard down when the costs are so high.
This is why we need a budget that matches these most pressing needs. Fortunately, President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2019 addresses many of these concerns.
It contains $1.6 billion for a border wall and additional funds to hire more ICE Officers and Border Patrol Agents to help curb illegal immigration.
Securing our borders continues to be one of my top priorities, which is why I introduced legislation in the Congress to get the job done.
My bill authorizes $18 billion for the construction of a border wall, ends funding for sanctuary cities, closes dangerous loopholes, and puts more boots on the ground. It also secures ports of entry, authorizes the National Guard to provide aviation and intelligence support, and targets visa overstays.
I am also pleased to see $713 million requested in the President’s budget for cybersecurity operations at National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
As Americans become more reliant on cyberspace, we are all targets.
My Committee has a strong bipartisan track record on this issue. We passed bills to expedite hiring at DHS and enhance cyber threat information sharing. We also recently secured $26 million to support election infrastructure.
Another area of concern for me is aviation security.
I have been very disappointed at the slow pace of installing Computed Tomography (CT) scanners in our airports. These CT scanners provide 3D imagery to stop threats from boarding airplanes. Compared to the technology we have now, it’s the difference between an x-ray and an MRI. Next year’s budget request for an additional $71.5 million for CT will certainly help, but I do not believe it is enough to mitigate the threat.
Many terrorists are only one plane ride away. Our aviation sector is still their “crown jewel” of targets so DHS must fight through all bureaucratic hurdles. We need to ensure that CT scanners are in our airports and last points of departure for in-bound flights to the United States as soon as possible.
While some parts of this budget request will help DHS carry out its mission, other parts miss the mark. Cutting nearly $500 million to FEMA grants for state and local first responders is a major step backwards especially after many parts of the country, including our home state of Texas, were devastated by natural disasters last year.
First responders also played a key role in the recent bombings in my hometown of Austin. They have been critical to our state’s response efforts and need our support.
Protecting our homeland must be a unifying cause. Partisanship should end at the water’s edge. Last July, the House of Representatives passed the first ever, comprehensive reauthorization of DHS with overwhelming bipartisan support. This reauthorization reasserts Congress’s authority to write laws, streamlines redundant programs, protects taxpayer dollars, and supports America’s front-line defenders and first responders.
Unfortunately, our friends in the Senate have not yet passed our bill and I continue to strongly urge them to do so without further delay. As of May 1st, my committee has passed 82 bills through the House and 6 were signed into law. Politico recognized us as the “hardest working Committee in Congress.”
A strong DHS is my goal and I am here to write legislation that fosters the best policies and practices in national security. I look forward to working to keep our homeland safe and representing the people of Texas’ 10th District.