Committee on Homeland Security

Michael McCaul

Casey, Carper, Collins, Begich, McCaul Release GAO Report Laying Out Gaps In U.S. Emergency Preparedness, Opportunities to Close Capability Gaps

2014/12/19

Contact: John Rizzo (Casey) 202-228-6367 Jennie Westbrook (HSGAC) 202-224-2627 Kevin Kelley (Collins) 202-224-2523 Lauren Claffey (McCaul) 202-226-8477

Government Accountability Office Analyzed Government Preparedness for No-Notice Catastrophic Disasters

Report Shows Steps Need to be Taken to Increase Coordination, More Consistently Carry Out Emergency Preparedness Activities

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Co-Chair of the National Security Working Group; Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Susan Collins (R-ME), former Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee; Mark Begich (D-AK); and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report laying out gaps in the nation’s emergency preparedness and identifying opportunities to close capability gaps. The GAO analyzed the federal government’s preparedness for so called ‘no-notice’ catastrophic disasters which pose one of the greatest challenges to national emergency preparedness. The report finds that steps need to be taken to increase coordination among federal agencies so that federal officials are more consistently carrying out emergency preparedness activities. The Department of Homeland Security said that it will implement GAO’s recommendations, in coordination with other agencies.

“This report shows that additional steps and better coordination are needed at the federal level to make sure our agencies are prepared to respond to emergencies,” Senator Casey said. “I’m hopeful that the Administration will use this report to improve current policies and ensure that federal agencies with relevant jurisdiction are working with one another to enhance our nation’s preparedness.”  

“Disasters can strike at any time and at any place. Whether a disaster is natural or man-made, large or small, our federal government needs to be prepared,” said Chairman Carper. “This report makes it clear that federal agencies need to do a better job of coordinating and sharing information with each other and providing that information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Responding to a disaster is a shared responsibility by a number of agencies. While FEMA plays a central role in this effort, it’s crucial that other agencies are prepared and coordinate their response. I will continue to monitor agencies’ progress in implementing the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recommendations to improve overall coordination and collaboration. I will also continue to work with our partners at GAO as the agency conducts follow-up work to this report.”

“I am concerned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not been tracking the efforts by agencies to address their capability gaps in responding to "no-notice emergencies," Senator Collins said. “As the name implies, these emergencies come with no advance warning and no time to prepare.  It is vitally important that DHS address the findings of this report to ensure that we are as prepared as we possibly can be for any disaster.  After observing the poor response at all levels of government to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, especially by FEMA, I led the effort to reshape and improve FEMA's response to emergencies with limited notice.  I hope this report will act as a catalyst for similar improvements in the ‘no-notice’ area.”

“The Secretary of Homeland Security is the principal federal official responsible for domestic incident management. Yet, according to GAO, cross-government coordination on preparedness efforts between DHS and other federal agencies are insufficient,” said Chairman McCaul. “As such, there is no way to know just how prepared the whole of our federal government is to respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster. More than thirteen years after the terrorist attack on 9/11, this is unacceptable. I look forward to working with the Secretary and FEMA Administrator to address GAO's recommendations, including through my committee's efforts to authorize the Department of Homeland Security next year."

GAO’s report can be found here: LINK

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McCaul: U.S. Must Respond to Growing Cyber Threat

2014/12/19

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) confirmation that North Korea was behind the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment:

Chairman McCaul: “Nation-state actors are increasingly hacking into U.S. companies and government networks to steal intellectual property and secrets without consequence. Former Director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander described this loss of IP as ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in history.’ However, the Sony attack was more than just theft – it was destructive. If North Korea has these capabilities, imagine what damage nation-states like Russia, China or Iran can cause to our nation’s vital networks that control our power grid, energy and water supplies or other critical infrastructure. We must do more to ensure our nation is able to prevent, detect and respond to the growing cyber threat. This will be a top of focus of my committee next Congress and I will continue to work with my House and Senate colleagues to build on the cybersecurity legislation passed by Congress last week.”

Last week, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen cybersecurity, providing a foundation for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation next year. The bills bolster efforts to combat cyberattacks on vital digital networks by establishing the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to facilitate cybersecurity and protect Americans’ civil liberties. The legislation also strengthens DHS’s cybersecurity workforce. Yesterday, the bills were signed into law by the president.

For more information, click HERE and HERE.

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McCaul Statement on Release of DHS’s Secret Service Review

2014/12/18

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the release of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) review of the United States Secret Service (USSS):

Chairman McCaul: “While this review is a good start, the USSS faces significant challenges on how to best prioritize reforms in these tight budgetary times. I still believe Congress should create a panel to conduct a truly independent, bipartisan, top-to-bottom review. The men and women of the Secret Service deserve an organization that is efficient and effective as possible, and the American people deserve confidence that the Service can effectively perform its vital and wide ranging missions. An objective, comprehensive review - like the one called for in my legislation – will provide direction to the USSS on how best to address today’s threats.”

Last month, McCaul introduced H.R. 5698, the “United States Secret Service Accountability and Improvement Act of 2014” to establish an independent panel to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Secret Service.

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McCaul to President Obama: Fundamental Problems Hinder CVE Efforts

2014/12/18

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, urged President Barack Obama to address gaps within the Administration’s approach to the threat of violent Islamist extremism and overall countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts.

“Three years ago, your Administration released a national strategy for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States, and corresponding implementation plan,” wrote McCaul in a letter to the president. “Since that time, the threat posed by homegrown violent Islamist extremism has only intensified with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the proliferation of al Qaeda affiliates around the globe, and the spread of jihadi propaganda.

“While there have been positive developments on your administration’s CVE efforts, there are still fundamental problems which will hinder your long term success mitigating the threat of violent Islamist extremism in the United States,” wrote McCaul.

The committee launched the investigation earlier this year in order to identify strengths, weaknesses, and remaining gaps in the administration’s approach to CVE or combatting the extremist ideology espoused by violent Islamist groups. McCaul’s letter details the initial findings of the committee’s review. Specifically, the committee found that there is little to no coordination between domestic and foreign CVE efforts. Moreover, there is no lead agency, common federal definition nor overall budget for federal CVE efforts.

The signed letter to President Barack Obama is available HERE

The text of the letter to President Obama follows: 

The Honorable Barack Obama President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Three years ago, your Administration released a national strategy for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States, and corresponding implementation plan.  Since that time, the threat posed by homegrown violent Islamist extremism has only intensified with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the proliferation of al Qaeda affiliates around the globe, and the spread of jihadi propaganda.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently noted in a statement announcing the beginning of a series of new federal programs designed to counter violent extremism (CVE) that “few threats are more urgent” than this one.  I agree, and I believe protecting the United States from the danger posed by jihadist networks and homegrown extremists will require a diverse set of departments, agencies and programs; willing partnerships with local communities; international partners; and an informed public.

To assist in these efforts, as Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, I initiated a review of the Administration’s CVE policies and programs in order to identify strengths, weaknesses, and remaining gaps in our approach to combatting the extremist ideology espoused by al Qaeda, al Qaeda’s affiliated networks around the globe, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), and other violent Islamist groups.  As I wrote to your Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco in May 2014, this issue is vital to the national security of the Unites States and demands our mutual cooperation. Though I have not yet received a reply to this letter, I have been encouraged by the Administration’s willingness to brief the Committee on these efforts. Programs such as those described by the Attorney General are, at first glance, steps in the right direction.

However, while the initial stages of my review have revealed progress made in federal CVE programs, there are continued areas of concern within the Administration’s approach to the threat of violent Islamist extremism and overall CVE efforts. I share these in the hopes of highlighting where more can be done to better protect our citizens from the growing threat of radicalization. These include:

1) The lack of a clearly defined, overall lead agency.  The 2011 CVE strategy and corresponding implementation plan were intended to clarify guidance to the departments and agencies engaging in CVE efforts. Instead, the 2011 strategy and Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) fail to clarify a specific lead agency for carrying out CVE policies. In particular, the SIP identifies “leads” responsible for “convening pertinent partners to identify, address, and report on steps that are being taken, or should be taken, to ensure activities are effectively executed.”  This is worthwhile but does not resolve the need for national-level management of all CVE activities by a single agency. In fact, CVE efforts are especially vulnerable to suffer from a lack of clear leadership particularly because a successful CVE program necessarily requires the involvement of a diverse set of actors in its execution. Further, the lack of a lead agency has a cascading effect that weakens CVE efforts.

2) The lack of an overall definition of CVE. Though the 2011 CVE SIP provides a definition of “violent extremist,” such clarity is lacking when it comes to exactly how to define “CVE.” In particular, officials appear to have conflicting understandings of exactly what sets CVE apart from broader counterterrorism or general community outreach. This confusion is only compounded by the fact that multiple agencies play a role in CVE efforts, leading to potential conflicts between federal entities, as well as redundancies and gaps.

3) The lack of budgeting for and accounting of CVE efforts and reliable personnel figures.  In your May 23, 2013 speech at the National Defense University, you noted that a successful counterterrorism strategy “requires sustained engagement, but it will also require resources.”  This is just as true for our domestic CVE efforts as it is for our military operations and foreign assistance programs – and yet we have found the Administration unable to provide a precise figure detailing the total number of personnel and resources dedicated fully or partially to CVE. We have also noticed a conspicuous lack of a CVE line item in your Administration’s annual budget request.[1]  In many cases, those devoting their time to CVE programs carry out their work while simultaneously serving in other capacities, or while on temporary detail from other offices and agencies.  This approach is unlikely to foster a sustainable professional environment.  The absence of any baseline CVE budget is evidence that the resources devoted to CVE are likely anemic.  To argue that CVE efforts are a priority for your Administration demands a good faith accounting of the resources expended and the resources required.  Neither of these are so far available. Congress can be a better partner in this effort once we are provided with this basic information

4) The lack of established metrics for success. The 2011 SIP promises the creation of “indicators of impact to supplement” performance measures to evaluate whether federal CVE “activities are having the intended effects.”  It also makes clear that departments and agencies will be responsible for evaluating their own CVE efforts.  Thus far in our review, the Committee has not identified many examples of such metrics employed at the agency level to monitor progress toward identified CVE objectives.  Ad hoc examples of metrics (such as the FBI’s plan to institute a CVE outreach measure to the performance evaluations of Special Agents in Charge at FBI field offices) are encouraging but are not indicative of a coordinated effort to evaluate CVE performance across the board.  Moreover, the Committee does not have confidence that these types of internal self-evaluations have much merit, and instead suggests finding ways to increase Congressional oversight, auditing, and external assessments of CVE programs.  

5) Unclear coordination between domestic and foreign CVE efforts.  As the SIP notes, “the delineation between domestic and international [violent extremism] is becoming less rigid” and therefore “departments and agencies must ensure coordination between our domestic and international CVE efforts.”  While all partners agree on the logic of this approach, the Committee was surprised to learn that State Department representatives do not attend “Group of Four” meetings, a regular forum for interagency collaboration on CVE including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

Despite these areas of concern, in recent months the Committee has been encouraged by some efforts of agencies responsible for CVE programs. These include:

1)  Efforts to formalize communication and cooperation between partner agencies. The Committee recognizes an improvement in communication and cooperation regarding the CVE effort, specifically between DHS, DOJ, FBI, and NCTC.  Representatives from each of the above listed agencies/departments meet regularly to discuss CVE efforts.  Additionally, we acknowledge that despite the non-specified and non-allocated budget for CVE, the above listed agencies/departments have worked together to provide necessary manpower, resources, and funding to continue the CVE effort.

2) Improved community outreach efforts.  There appears to have been some improvement in formalizing community outreach programs and developing Community Awareness Briefing (CAB) materials to educate communities on the threat of radicalization, as well as Community Resiliency Exercises (CREx), which are table-top simulations involving community leaders, state and local law enforcement, civic leaders, religious groups, and privacy advocates.  These have been held in seven cities so far, and we hope to see them mature and expand further.

CAB briefing materials have also been utilized by U.S. Attorney’s Offices in their community outreach or CVE efforts outside of the formal CAB process. Anecdotal evidence provided to the Committee suggests the “Group of Four” have received positive feedback from local communities regarding the CAB and CREx.  Committee staff have had the opportunity to observe one CREx and community engagement roundtable in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson attended this same exercise and underscored DHS’s commitment to working with the community to build an effective CVE program.  Cabinet-level leadership such as his is desperately needed, and I am supportive of his personal investment in this issue.

3) The creation of a specific CVE coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security, and the establishment of specific CVE points of contact at 26 FBI Field Offices. That various departments and agencies have made efforts to specify who is responsible for implementing CVE policies is a common-sense step forward.  The Committee believes this demonstrates not only a step toward greater transparency, but also the growth of a CVE workforce specifically dedicated to meeting their agency’s CVE objectives. The Committee hopes this will increase accountability on CVE programs.

These initial findings are based on our preliminary examination of CVE efforts – but the Committee will need to continue our scrutiny of these programs to ensure they are as effective as possible. Toward that end, I write to request answers to the following questions by January 30, 2015:

Community Engagement

1.      In what ways has the “depth, breadth, and frequency of the federal government engagement with and among communities” on counterterrorism security measures been improved since the release of the 2011 SIP?

a.       How many DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) roundtables have been held?

2.      Both the 2011 CVE strategy and corresponding SIP discuss the importance of engaging with “communities that are being targeted [for recruitment] by violent extremists.”  How have these communities been identified?

a.       What feedback has the interagency received from these communities in regard to this outreach?

3.      What is the mechanism for feedback and follow-up after each CVE exercise?

Intervention with At-Risk Individuals

1.      Did CRCL implement a “campus youth community engagement plan” to engage with young adults on the topic of violent extremism?

2.      Has the U.S. government expanded analysis in “the role of the internet in radicalization to violence and how virtual space can be leveraged to counter violent extremism?”

3.      Has DHS developed “practitioner friendly summaries of current research and literature reviews about the motivations and behaviors associated with single-actor terrorism and disengagement from violent extremism?”

4.      Has the Administration “improved and increased” “communication to the American public about the threat posed by violent extremist groups, myths, and misperceptions about violent extremist radicalization and what we are doing to counter the threat? If so, How?

5.      After an at-risk individual is identified, what is the current procedure for determining if he/she is a threat?  What is the current procedure to refer an at-risk individual to a support group and/or provide further assistance?

Identifying Programs to Assist Grassroots CVE Efforts

1.      Did DHS oversee an online portal to support engagement by government officials and law enforcement with communities targeted by violent extremist radicalization?

2.      Did the U.S. government build a digital engagement capacity in order to expand, deepen, and intensify our engagement efforts?

3.      Has DHS developed an “integrated open source database to help inform CVE programs?”

4.      Has DHS continued to host follow-up “National CVE Workshops” to bring together intelligence commanders from major metropolitan areas and fusion center directors to increase their understanding of CVE?

5.      Have DHS, DOJ, and FBI reviewed information-sharing protocols to identify ways of increasing dissemination of products to State, local, and tribal authorities?

a.       What changes have been made since the release of the 2011 CVE SIP?

6.      Has the Administration “increase(d) the capacity of communities to directly challenge violent extremist ideologies and narratives?”

7.      Has the Administration drafted a strategy to address online violent extremist radicalization?

Leadership

1.      How effective are U.S. Attorneys as the main Point of Contact for CVE efforts in each district?  Considering their already taxed workload, how much of their time is allotted for CVE?

2.      What are the future goals and objectives of the Administration’s CVE effort and what is the strategy for achieving those objectives?

3.      Are there plans to increase the budget and manpower allocated for CVE efforts?

4.      What is the current chain of command for CVE related incidents and initiatives?

Evaluations and Transparency

1.      How many “regular reports on community engagement” were disseminated by the National Task Force for community engagement, which is led by DOJ and DHS?

2.      How many case studies were produced by DHS on preoperational indicators for State and local law enforcement since 2011?

3.      How many case studies has DHS generated of known and suspected terrorists and assessments of radicalization to violence to share with local partners since 2011?

4.      How have DHS and other participating agencies reviewed, evaluated, and incorporated the feedback provided by participants at the various community engagement roundtables, CREXs, and CABs?

While there have been positive developments on your administration’s CVE efforts, there are still fundamental problems which will hinder your long term success mitigating the threat of violent Islamist extremism in the United States. I appreciate your attention to this matter and request your assistance in obtaining the information necessary to ensure our country develops robust and effective CVE programs and policies.

Sincerely,

MICHAEL T. McCAUL

Chairman

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[1] On September 12, 2014 I wrote your Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mr. Shaun Donovan on this issue, and requested that OMB include an accounting of CVE programs in their upcoming FY2016 budget request and subsequent requests.

 

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McCaul, Brooks: No Justification for FEMA’s Costly Administrative Expenses

2014/12/17

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report detailing Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) administrative costs related to disaster relief expenditures.

The 73-page report entitled, “Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Oversight of Administrative Costs for Major Disasters,” was originally requested by U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Susan W. Brooks, chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.

Chairman McCaul: “The fact that FEMA spent $12.7 billion on administrative costs is unacceptable. FEMA should be spending money on vital assistance for those negatively impacted by disasters - not on excessive administrative costs. Taxpayers deserve responsible, and effective disaster relief and the committee will continue to monitor FEMA’s management of taxpayer funds to ensure the national response to disasters is efficient and fiscally responsible.”

Subcommittee Chairman Brooks: “As the GAO report demonstrates, FEMA lacks adequate metrics to justify spending $12.7 billion over almost a decade on logistical and administrative costs. FEMA must take immediate steps to ensure the responsible expenditure of Disaster Relief Fund resources, with the ultimate goal of more efficient and effective disaster response and recovery.”

GAO found that from fiscal years 2004 to 2013, FEMA spent $12.7 billion or 13% of the Disaster Relief Fund on administrative costs. During this same period, 32% more major disasters received obligations from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) than in the preceding fiscal years. This time frame accounted for 650 major disasters.

However, part of FEMA’s Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 is to reduce the administrative costs by 5%. GAO recommends that FEMA establish a unified plan to effectively control and lower administrative costs for major disasters, assesses the cost versus the benefits of tracking administrative requests for disaster relief funds, and produces guidance on the documentation requirements of administration costs.  

Read GAO’s full report HERE.

Read a previous press release on the recently released GAO report showing FEMA put millions of disaster relief dollars at risk of improper use or fraud.

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McCaul Statement on Hostage Situation in Australia

2014/12/15

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia:

Chairman McCaul: “What we've witnessed in Sydney should be a call to action for the United States and all our allies who have been threatened by violent Islamist extremists. We all face dual threats: terrorists who are seeking to enter the country to conduct attacks and from terrorists who are recruited and radicalized internally. The United States must wage a robust effort here at home to combat violent Islamist extremism by working with local communities to intervene when we see signs of it, fighting against online Islamist propaganda, and providing ways to stop individuals lured into the ‘jihadi cool’ subculture before they act. My prayers go out to the hostages in Sydney and to our friends in Australia, and my thanks go out to the men and women who worked to stop this disturbed individual.”

Chairman McCaul wrote about the importance of combating violent Islamist extremism in the U.S. in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Islamic State Is Recruiting America's 'Jihadi Cool' Crowd. He is also leading a review of the Obama administration’s strategy for countering domestic radicalization and a review of the administration's efforts to stop foreign terrorist fighters from returning to the United States.

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McCaul, Brooks: New GAO Report Shows FEMA Put Millions of Dollars at Risk of Improper Use and Fraud

2014/12/12

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report that details Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) new methods to detect improper and potentially fraudulent payments.

The 70-page report, entitled “Hurricane Sandy: FEMA Has Improved Disaster Aid Verification but Could Act to Further Limit Improper Assistance,” was originally requested by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Susan W. Brooks, chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.

Chairman McCaul: “GAO found that FEMA put 39 million of taxpayers’ dollars at risk of becoming improper or fraudulent. This is reckless and simply unacceptable. FEMA needs to be more vigilant in order to reduce the misuse of disaster aid. I am encouraged they have taken positive steps since Hurricane Katrina to reduce their volume of improper payments following a disaster, but it isn't enough. I look forward to working with the agency as they implement the recommendations in this report."  

Subcommittee Chairman Brooks: “FEMA made $1.4 billion in potentially improper Federal assistance payments following Hurricane Katrina. As a U.S. Attorney in Indiana, my office was among many across the country prosecuting cases related to these fraudulent payments for Hurricane Katrina. I was pleased to learn in the Government Accountability Office's report that FEMA has made progress to address waste, fraud and abuse since Hurricane Katrina. However, as the GAO found, FEMA still provided $39 million in potentially improper financial assistance after Hurricane Sandy.  FEMA must continue working to improve its policies, procedures and systems to ensure that every dollar of vital disaster response and recovery funding goes to those truly in need of disaster assistance." 

GAO found that FEMA and state governments faced challenges in collecting the appropriate data to help prevent duplicative payments from overlapping sources. FEMA recently took steps to streamline data sharing among programs, including initiating a committee to explore best practices on how to maintain and share relevant data needed to prevent potentially duplicative assistance in the future.

However, GAO identified $39 million, or 2.7 percent, were at risk of being improper or fraudulent. GAO recommends that FEMA collaborate with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain and collect important data to detect duplicative assistance and to implement an approach to verify whether recipients have private insurance.

Read GAO’s full report HERE.

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Congress Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Cybersecurity; Most Significant Cyber Bill to Pass Congress in Over a Decade

2014/12/11

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed S. 2519, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014, and a Senate amendment to H.R. 2952, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act - bipartisan legislation to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security: “The cyber bills passed this week are a historic moment in the fight against cyber-attacks. Every day Americans’ private information is lost in criminal data breaches like those at Target and Home Depot. Nation-state actors, such as Russia, China and Iran, are increasingly hacking into U.S. companies and government networks to conduct espionage or steal intellectual property. In fact, former Director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander described this loss of IP as  ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in history.’ However, the most malicious threat is from those who wish to do our country harm  by shutting down our power grid, energy or water systems.

“With the passage of these bipartisan and bicameral bills, we can protect our vital digital private and government networks from daily attacks from foreign enemies across the globe by encouraging and supporting federal and private sector threat sharing.  These bills are a significant step in the right direction, and my colleagues have shown that cybersecurity is a priority for this Congress. But there is more work to be done.”

Rep. Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies: “S. 2519 is the first significant cyber legislation in a decade and among the most important legislation that has been passed this Congress. Cyber-attacks against government agencies, corporations and consumers have grown exponentially over the past year, and losses from these breaches have reached into the billions of dollars. Cyber capabilities of our adversaries -- both states and non-state actors -- continue to grow and outpace our efforts to defend against them. This legislation is a major achievement to improve our nation’s cybersecurity defenses, improve coordination between government and private sector and protect the personal data of millions of American consumers. It also protects privacy rights: the ACLU has called it ‘pro-security and pro-privacy.’ I’m proud of this landmark legislation and I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support.

“Furthermore, the cyber threat from around the world must be met by talented professionals as much as technology. H.R. 2952, gives the Department of Homeland Security new tools to compete with private sector companies and recruit the talented and well-trained cyber warriors we need to protect us from cyber attack.”

You can watch Chairman McCaul speak on this topic HERE.

You can watch Subcommittee Chairman Meehan speak on this topic HERE.

BACKGROUND:

S. 2519 and H.R. 2952 passed the House by voice vote and will be sent to the president for his signature.

S. 2519 establishes the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), a federal civilian interface at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the sharing of cyber threat information. It also facilitates cybersecurity across critical infrastructure sectors and ensures Americans’ civil liberties are protected. The bill is the negotiated, bipartisan compromise between the Senate and the House-passed H.R. 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2014, which was introduced by Chairman McCaul, Subcommittee Chairman Meehan, Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Yvette Clarke (D-NY).

A summary of S. 2519 is available HERE.

H.R. 2952, as amended by the Senate, strengthens DHS’s cybersecurity workforce by requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess the cybersecurity workforce of DHS and develop a strategy to enhance the department’s ability to protect our nation from cyber-attacks. The Senate amendment passed by the House today mirrors language in the House-passed H.R. 3696.

In addition, Congress passed two cybersecurity bills supported by McCaul and Meehan yesterday:

  • S. 1619, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act, allows DHS to recruit and hire qualified cyber professionals, while also reforming the overtime payment system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol to save taxpayer dollars and better secure the border. This bill contains provisions similar to the House-passed H.R. 3696.
  • S. 2521, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, bolsters the cybersecurity of federal networks by updating and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and DHS. This bill contains provisions similar to the House-passed H.R. 3696.

With the passage of these cyber bills this week, nearly all the provisions in H.R. 3696 were sent to the president to be signed into law.

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Congress Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Reinforce Protection and Security of Chemical Facilities

2014/12/11

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Senate amendment to H.R. 4007, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act - bipartisan legislation to reinforce the protection and security of chemical facilities from terrorist attacks.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security: “Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, its affiliates and ISIS are increasingly active or inspiring violent Islamist extremists here at home. To guard against terrorist attacks, DHS’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program sets guidelines to protect the highest risk chemical facilities. The bill passed by Congress today makes fundamental improvements to the CFATS program and provides the stability and certainty both the department and industry have been calling for. I thank Rep. Meehan for his leadership on this legislation and I urge the president to sign this important bill into law.”

Rep. Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies: “This bill is a major breakthrough. Congress has provided smart, binding guidelines to improve the operation of program, measure progress, and enhance security. As a result, our firefighters and emergency workers will be safer when they respond to incidents at facilities like the one that exploded in West, Texas. I’m grateful to Chairman McCaul and Ranking Members Thompson and Clarke for their hard work and leadership on this issue.”

Specifically, the House concurred in the Senate amendment to H.R. 4007 to extend the authorization of the program from three years to four years to provide certainty for DHS and industry partners. In addition, the bill expedites the approval process of site security plans for low risk chemical facilities, establishes whistle blower protections and clarifies the emergency shutdown authorities. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Meehan and co-sponsored by Chairman McCaul.

H.R. 4007, as amended by the Senate, passed the House by voice vote and will be sent to the president for his signature.

Full text of the bill as amended is available HERE.

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Congress Sends President Obama Bipartisan Legislation to Improve TSA Acquisition Process, Stakeholder Engagement

2014/12/10

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Senate Amendments to H.R. 2719 and H.R. 1204, bipartisan legislation to reform the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) technology purchasing process and to improve stakeholder engagement.

“These common sense bills will improve the way TSA spends taxpayer dollars and makes major policy decisions,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. “By ensuring that private industry has a seat at the table and that TSA does not purchase new technologies without proper planning, oversight and accountability, we can better safeguard our critical aviation sector, which remains a prime target for terrorists. I am grateful to Rep. Hudson and Ranking Member Thompson for their hard work on these important bills and urge the president to sign them into law.”

“These important bills are common sense steps to increase transparency and accountability at TSA while keeping travelers safe and saving taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Richard Hudson, chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security. "Despite Washington’s gridlock, the bipartisan passage of today’s bills show that Republicans and Democrats can work together to solve problems for the common good. I want to especially thank Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Thompson for their leadership on issues affecting our homeland and their hard work to get these bills to the President’s desk.”

Specifically, the House concurred in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2719, the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act, which was introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hudson, R-NC, and co-sponsored by Chairman Michael McCaul, R-TX, Ranking Member Bennie Thompson, D-MS, and Ranking Subcommittee Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-LA. The bill requires TSA to implement best practices and improve transparency with regard to technology acquisition programs and was passed by a vote of 425-0.

In addition, the House concurred in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1204, the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act, which was introduced by Ranking Member Bennie Thompson, D-MS, and has 8 co-sponsors. The bill ensures that TSA maintains open lines of communication with relevant stakeholder groups through the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) and was passed by a vote of 416-5.

The bills will be sent to the president for his signature.

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Contact Information

H2-176 Ford HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-226-8417
Fax 202-226-3399
homeland.house.gov


Membership

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Susan Brooks

INDIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Paul Broun

GEORGIA's 10th DISTRICT

Jason Chaffetz

UTAH's 3rd DISTRICT

Steve Daines

MONTANA

Jeff Duncan

SOUTH CAROLINA's 3rd DISTRICT

Richard Hudson

NORTH CAROLINA's 8th DISTRICT

Peter King

NEW YORK's 2nd DISTRICT

Tom Marino

PENNSYLVANIA's 10th DISTRICT

Michael McCaul

TEXAS' 10th DISTRICT

Patrick Meehan

PENNSYLVANIA's 7th DISTRICT

Candice Miller

MICHIGAN's 10th DISTRICT

Steven Palazzo

MISSISSIPPI's 4th DISTRICT

Scott Perry

PENNSYLVANIA's 4th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

ALABAMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Mark Sanford

SOUTH CAROLINA's 1st DISTRICT

Lamar Smith

TEXAS' 21st DISTRICT

Chris Stewart

UTAH's 2nd DISTRICT