McCaul on House Passage of Eight Bills to Protect the Homeland

Mar 22, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5074, the DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act of 2018, under the leadership of Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) in addition to seven other pieces of bipartisan legislation to strengthen our homeland security. Additional Committee bills on the House floor this week seek to strengthen aviation security, enhance counterterrorism efforts, and address numerous recommendations made by the Committee in its 2017 report reviewing the National Network of Fusion Centers.

Chairman McCaul: “America must continue to evolve and improve our defenses to ensure we are one step ahead of the dangers facing the homeland. My bill, H.R. 5074, supports an additional line of defense by ensuring DHS has cyber incident response teams to assist the private sector in identifying, responding to, and mitigating cybersecurity threats. This innovative approach serves as a force multiplier to enhance our cybersecurity workforce. This bill, along with the seven other bipartisan bills that passed the House this week, are unified in their purpose of improving our nation’s preparedness.”

Legislation passed this week includes:

H.R. 4227, the Vehicular Terrorism Prevention Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Latta (R-OH), directs the Secretary to examine the threat of vehicular terrorism and develop a strategy to improve DHS support for the efforts of emergency responders and the private sector to prevent, mitigate and respond to such a threat. This bill is a response to the recent vehicular terror attacks (Barcelona, Nice, London, NYC, and Ohio) and how to better combat this threat.

H.R. 4467, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Hice (R-GA), ensures that TSA utilizes risk-based strategies when allocating Federal Air Marshals on international and domestic passenger flights in order to increase the effectiveness of the program. In September 2017, GAO reported that TSA does not measure data on the effectiveness and deterrence value of Federal Air Marshals. This is a major problem for accountability—Federal Air Marshals deployment cost taxpayers $800 million in fiscal year 2015—as well as for the value of the program itself, where the primary goal is to deter threats and minimize risk to passengers and crew.

H.R. 5079, the DHS Field Engagement Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. Bacon (R-NE), requires the Secretary to develop a DHS-wide fusion center engagement strategy, ensure metrics are in place to hold field personnel from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) accountable for their performance at fusion centers, and leverage the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) to promote greater engagement between DHS components and fusion centers.

H.R. 5099, the Enhancing DHS’ Fusion Center Technical Assistance Program, sponsored by Rep. Estes (R-KS), authorizes and enhances the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion center technical assistance program. The program is required to focus on providing the 79 fusion centers across the United States with technical assistance regarding intelligence and information sharing, terrorism prevention activities and the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Area Security Initiative grant program.

H.R. 5074, the DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. McCaul (R-TX), codifies and shapes the cyber incident response teams at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These teams will exist within the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) at DHS and provide assistance and support to asset owners and operators following a cyber-incident. This legislation codifies an existing program and adds the flexibility to allow for private sector cybersecurity experts to operate on the cyber incident response teams.

H.R. 4176, the Air Cargo Security Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Thompson (D-MS), establishes the air cargo security division within TSA to carry out all air cargo security policy and stakeholder engagement. It also requires the TSA Administrator to conduct a feasibility study—and a subsequent pilot program—on expanding the use of computed tomography (CT) and other emerging technology for air cargo screening. Lastly, the bill requires a review of the Certified Cargo Screening Program and the Known Shipper Program.

H.R. 5089, the Strengthening Local Transportation Security Capabilities Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Barragán (D-CA), requires the DHS Secretary to prioritize the assignment of officers and intelligence analysts from TSA and the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) to fusion centers in jurisdictions with high-risk surface transportation assets, in order to participate in the generation and dissemination of intelligence products; and make security clearances available to appropriate stakeholders. It also requires the TSA Administrator to make available a framework for establishing an integrated and unified operations center that oversees the daily operations of a transportation facility. Lastly, this bill enables the Secretary to develop a training program through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) to enhance the protection, preparedness, and response capabilities of law enforcement agencies for terrorism incidents at surface transportation assets.

H.R. 5131, the Surface Transportation Security Improvement Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Watson Coleman (D-NJ), requires a GAO review of the national strategy for transportation security; the development of risk-based priorities for all transportation modes; a feasibility assessment of utilizing security technologies for surface transportation assets; the dissemination of best practices for enhancing security against vehicle-based terrorist attacks; the authorization of the Innovation Task Force (ITF); a threat assessment of certain security technologies tied to foreign countries; and a strategy for surface transportation inspectors.

NOTE: Watch Chairman McCaul’s floor remarks on H.R. 5074.

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