Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that Federal Protective Service (FPS) will enhance its presence and security at various U.S. government buildings in Washington D.C. and other major cities and locations around the country:
“ISIS is waging a campaign of war over the Internet to incite homegrown violent extremism in the United States. We must do everything we can to protect every American abroad and at home. Secretary Johnson's efforts are to be commended and no public servant should rest until this evil is rooted out and demolished."
Houston Chronicle - by Michael McCaul
Once again, Texans have been on the front lines dealing with the latest threat to the United States, the Ebola virus. Over the past month, we witnessed the tragedy of the first death from Ebola in the country and felt the shock when two American health-care workers were infected in Texas. But we also saw courage from our state leaders, hospitals and health-care workers as they dealt with this deadly illness.
The risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States remains extremely low. However, new cases continue to be reported in West Africa. Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimated that cases in Liberia were doubling every 15-20 days and those in Sierra Leone were doubling every 30-40 days.
If the epidemic is not brought under control, an estimated 1.4 million people from Liberia and Sierra Leone could be infected by mid-January, according to the CDC. As was demonstrated by the Homeland Security Committee hearing convened in Dallas earlier this month, it is vital we develop a coordinated strategy to combat Ebola.
The strategy should address three key components: attacking the virus at its source, travel restrictions and finding a remedy and cure.
First, like any threat to the homeland, the priority in combating Ebola remains eliminating it at the source before it enters our borders. Our government must be more proactive in the fight to prevent the spread of Ebola from West Africa. That means the U.S. and the international community must focus efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where the virus is currently running rampant. It is the only way to truly stop this outbreak from turning into a global pandemic.
Second, we should also restrict travel from West Africa until the virus is tamed. It is smart the Department of Homeland Security is now routing all travelers originating from Ebola-affected countries through airports with enhanced screening measures in place. However, I will continue to urge the Obama administration to temporarily suspend all visas of individuals from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea until the outbreak of the Ebola virus is under control within these countries.
Furthermore, government policies need to encourage and incentivize individuals who have come into contact with persons infected by Ebola to take all precautions.
Following the case of the Doctors Without Borders volunteer who was diagnosed with Ebola after his return to the U.S., some states are implementing mandatory quarantining and the CDC has revised its own policies. While there must always be a balance between personal responsibility and government involvement, additional quarantining measures are a prudent step. The CDC should strengthen its policy to include a requirement for in-home quarantining for those who have been exposed to the virus.
Finally, the Obama administration must continue to place a priority on finding ways to help detect, treat and cure Ebola and other biological threats that may arise. This means developing a better rapid diagnostic test that could be used at our ports-of-entry, in our hospitals and in the field in Africa; producing more therapeutic treatments, like the experimental drug Z-Mapp; and stepping up efforts to develop a vaccine. These medical countermeasures need to be accessible to those on the front lines - health-care workers, military service members and first responders.
The administration's response to combating Ebola within the United States has thus far been challenged and disorganized. While I'm pleased that the president appointed someone to coordinate federal Ebola response efforts, we need more than a politically connected Ebola "czar." We need a leader who understands the threat.
To head up this strategy and protect Americans in the future, we need a permanent adviser with strong medical credentials for all bio-threats. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations had a Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy to focus all federal efforts on the range of biological threats we face, including disease outbreaks like Ebola. The president should re-establish this permanent position.
America must be a global leader on combating this disease. While there is no magic pill that can stop Ebola, preventing an outbreak in the United States is possible with continued vigilance and a coordinated, all-of-government response.
Michael McCaul, a Republican representing Texas' 10th district in the U.S. House, is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on yesterday’s attack in Ottawa, Canada where a gunman shot and killed a soldier at Canada's National War Memorial, then entered the Parliament building:
“The attack in Ottawa is yet another reminder that homegrown terrorism is a real threat not only to our country but to our allies as well. Whether these individuals train in Syria or Iraq and then return home, or are inspired and recruited over the internet while in their basements, their danger to society is the same. 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 family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, and to our friends in Canada who were affected by yesterday’s shooting.”
Last month, 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 efforts to counter violent Islamist extremism.
Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) announcement on new travel restrictions for flights originating from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. These flights will now be routed through New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago airports and are subject to secondary screening and added protocols before they can be admitted into the United States:
“Putting in place travel restrictions and additional screening measures at our airports is a commonsense proposal, and I am pleased to see DHS make this announcement. In addition to requiring all travelers from at-risk countries to fly through airports with enhanced screening measures in place, I continue to call on the administration to suspend all visas from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.”
Chairman McCaul previously urged Secretary Johnson and Secretary Kerry to temporary suspend visas issued to individuals from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and recommended that any diagnosed patients should be treated at one of the four U.S. biocontainment units.
The Washington Times - by Michael McCaul
There’s still no control of the Southern border, and that’s unacceptable.
Over the past few months, Americans have witnessed the many threats the United States faces. It is my job as the chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee to help keep these threats out of the country. That is why securing our border is so important to me.
This summer, the American people saw a glimpse of what Texans have been witnessing for decades: our nation’s inability to stop people from coming across the southern border. The surge of unaccompanied children being led into the United States by coyotes and drug cartels highlighted one of our nation’s greatest weaknesses. If we cannot control who or what is coming into our country, how can we hope to keep the American people safe?
The potential for more sinister individuals to cross our borders is certainly on the radar of government officials. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said, “Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even quite easily bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.”
We must remain vigilant and we must also do more to protect ourselves from this threat. This will require the Department of Homeland Security to finally develop a comprehensive strategy to secure the border.
For more than 25 years, the federal government has increased border security resources only to see illegal crossings and criminal enterprises continue to operate by shifting to other less secure areas of the border. At last count, only 44 percent of the border was under “operational control” — an unacceptable outcome by any objective standard.
Today, the border is not secure, but it can be. It is my responsibility to ensure Secretary Jeh Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security are making real progress to gain operational control at the border. As such, I recently outlined my vision of a secure southern border.
Homeland Security needs a new approach to secure the border, one that emphasizes the smart application of resources, defined goals and quantifiable results to tangibly show that the border is secure. The No. 1 objective is to allow the Border Patrol to gain complete visibility of our borders. Once we identify the threat, we must have the ability to communicate it to law enforcement. Finally, we need the capabilities to quickly respond.
This can be done immediately by strategically deploying more technology and capabilities to close known gaps in our defenses and using these resources to develop better intelligence. My plan includes a sector-by-sector allocation of assets that will enable us to achieve Step 1: complete visibility.
In fact, this resource allocation has already begun. I previously traveled to Afghanistan and met with Gen. John Allen about securing Department of Defense surveillance assets proven to work on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border so they could be used on our borders once they were no longer needed overseas. Today we have five aerostats — tethered airships for surveillance — in the Rio Grande Valley and another 16 are available to the Homeland Security Department. However, more can and should be done.
Moreover, any plan to secure the border must also establish outcome-based means to measure security between and at ports of entry and along the maritime border. This data will facilitate a clearer vision of the effectiveness of the total border security effort and better resource allocation planning, and will answer the question: Is the border secure?
Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson delivered a speech in Washington, D.C. on the security of our southern border. I was disappointed to hear him double down on the belief that our border is more secure than ever. However, I am glad to know that Homeland Security will finally be heeding my calls for a department-wide strategy with metrics and risk-based deployment of technology for intelligence gathering and surveillance at our borders.
The American people deserve to have secure borders. As we face new and growing threats to our national security, this administration needs the will and vision to make it happen. This is the constitutional role of the federal government, and we have an obligation to our citizens to make this a reality.
Michael McCaul, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas, is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on President Obama’s appointment of Ron Klain as coordinator for the U.S. response to the Ebola virus:
"While it is an important and necessary step to name an Ebola coordinator, prior administrations had permanent leaders on a range of bio-threats, including Ebola, with strong medical credentials. Specifically, both the Bush and Clinton administrations had a Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy to focus all federal efforts on the range of biological threats we face, including disease outbreaks like Ebola. While the president’s pick may have the ear of the White House and experience from the campaign trail, I am concerned he doesn't have significant relationships in the medical community that are imperative during this current biological emergency. I urge the president to rethink his political choice, and re-establish this permanent position as I have previously recommended."
Chairman McCaul previously urged President Obama to reestablish the position of Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy.
Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the resignation of John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA):
"I commend Administrator Pistole for the outstanding job he has done as head of the Transportation Security Administration. Mr. Pistole shared my goal of refining TSA to better serve travelers' needs, while still providing safe mass transit. With more than 30 years with the FBI and TSA, he has shown a dedication to the security of his country few can match. I wish him and his family all the best in his future endeavors."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, called on the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State to temporarily suspend the visas of individuals from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone until the outbreak of the Ebola virus is under control within these countries.
Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairmen U.S. Rep. Peter T. King, R-NY; U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-MI; U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-SC; U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC; and U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-IN, joined in the letter sent to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry.
The signed letter is available HERE.
The text of the letter follows:
October 15, 2014
The Honorable Jeh Johnson Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security Nebraska Avenue Center Washington, DC 20528
The Honorable John Kerry Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretaries Johnson and Kerry:
We write today concerning the urgent need to contain the Ebola Virus. While we understand significant efforts are underway to screen travelers at the point of exit leaving West Africa, as well as recently established procedures established at five ports of entry in the United States, we believe additional steps should be considered to curtail the potential spread of Ebola to the United States.
Last week, the Committee on Homeland Security held a field hearing in Dallas, Texas, where we received testimony from Federal, State and local officials on the government’s current response to the recent Ebola cases in Texas. While we remain confident in CBP’s ability to adequately screen individuals with overt signs of disease, given the virus’s long incubation period of up to 21 days, individuals carrying the virus may not show symptoms when they leave West Africa or upon entry in the United States. As was the case with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola case in Dallas, symptoms manifested days after he arrived.
Despite the strong public health system in the United States to combat a spread of Ebola, the most recent cases involving the two Dallas health care workers demonstrates the vulnerabilities of our system and steep learning curve public health officials are facing. In light of these current vulnerabilities, we urge you to consider temporarily suspending visas of individuals from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone until the outbreak is under control. Such a measure would ensure healthcare workers and supplies are able to be transported to impacted areas of West Africa, while also ensuring the public health and safety of the American public.
Taking such action to temporarily suspend some of the 13,500 visas would improve the American public’s confidence of public health officials to limit the spread of Ebola to the United States, while simultaneously permitting a robust effort by the U.S. Government and global health agencies to combat this vicious disease in West Africa. Moreover, we believe that any individuals that are diagnosed with Ebola should go to one of the four hospitals (Emory University Hospital, National Institutes of Health, Nebraska Medical Center, St. Patrick Hospital in Montana) that specialize in the treatment of this disease.
We urge your consideration of these necessary steps to prohibit the spread of this deadly virus. We thank you for your attention to this grave matter and wish you the best of luck as our nation faces this public health crisis.
Representative Michael McCaul Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security
Representative Peter King Chairman, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence
Representative Candice Miller Chairman, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security
Representative Jeff Duncan Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency
Representative Richard Hudson Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation and Security
Representative Susan Brooks Chairman, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications
NOTE: Last week, Chairman McCaul held a hearing in Dallas, Texas to examine the coordinated federal, state and local response to combating Ebola in the United States.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing entitled “Ebola in the Homeland: The Importance of Effective International, Federal, State and Local Coordination.” Watch LIVE on C-SPAN or online at cspan.org.
Chairman McCaul’s Remarks as Prepared: “We are here today to discuss the threat to the U.S. homeland from the Ebola virus and what is being done to stop the spread of this terrible disease. The crisis is unfolding at an alarming pace. Thousands have died in Africa and thousands more have been infected, including four selfless Americans working in Liberia who have been flown home for treatment. Now the virus has begun to spread to other parts of the world, and the American people are rightfully concerned. They are concerned because the Ebola virus is an unseen threat, and it is only a plane-flight away from our shores. We’ve witnessed that with the recent case here in Dallas—the first fatality from Ebola in the United States.
“But we must be sure to confront this crisis with the facts. Blind panic won’t help us stop this disease from spreading, and fear-mongering will only make it harder to do so. That is why we are here today: to ask the American people’s questions and get answers from our experts. Americans are seeking assurance that our federal, state, and local officials are doing everything in their power to keep this virus out of the United States.
“Already, there has been a vigorous international, federal, state, and local response. We hope to hear more today about exactly what has been done—and what needs to be done going forward. Two weeks ago, Thomas Eric Duncan traveled here from Liberia by way of the Brussels and Dulles airports, fell ill, and presented himself for treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital here in Dallas. Mr. Duncan’s diagnosis set in motion an extensive public health operation involving federal, state, and local officials to identify and assess any individuals with whom he may have had contact, a process called “contact-tracing.”
“That contact-tracing effort continues today, and our prayers are with everyone who is currently being monitored as part of this incident. We are thankful that, to date, there have been no additional cases of Ebola stemming from this case. Contact-tracing is time consuming and difficult, but it is one of the few ways to contain the disease. Containment also requires swift, coordinated action. In this Committee’s hearings and investigation on the Boston Marathon bombings, we heard testimony about the importance of the “incident command system.”
“The system is a vital tool for making sure first-responders at all levels engage quickly and decisively, rather than argue over who is in charge. The importance of such a response mechanism was highlighted in the 9/11 Commission report, and it has since saved countless lives. I was encouraged to learn officials here in Texas instituted this structure. Today, state and federal officials are co-located in the Dallas County Emergency Operations Center, enabling vital information sharing and coordination.
“To be clear, the situation here at home is far different than what is happening in West Africa. We have a strong public health infrastructure in place, particularly here in Texas, which enables us to work to contain this virus more effectively. But Dallas is not the only area that must remain vigilant. We need to ensure that state and local responders nationwide are prepared to move quickly if the virus is detected anywhere else within our borders. Hospitals are recognizing this and have made nearly 190 inquiries with the CDC about cases they believed could be Ebola. Thankfully, testing was only warranted in about 24 of those cases, and only one case was confirmed as Ebola.
“Public health and medical personnel must remain vigilant, ensure all hospital personnel are informed, follow protocols to identify this virus, and take appropriate quarantine measures. We must reinforce the importance of taking travel histories and sharing that information with all relevant personnel. Protecting the homeland from the Ebola virus also requires us to put measures in place out our airports. I am pleased the President announced earlier this week additional entry screening efforts are being launched. Beginning tomorrow, enhanced screening measures will be activated at JFK airport and soon after at Dulles, O’Hare, Newark, and Atlanta.
“These airports receive more than 94% of all travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. I look forward to hearing more about these enhanced screening efforts from our witnesses. The Department of Homeland Security has been actively involved in the response, and I commend Secretary Jeh Johnson for his leadership in bringing federal resources to the fight.
“We must also closely monitor the situation overseas and continue our global response efforts. I have spoken with the President’s Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco numerous times to ensure our government is doing all that is necessary. We recently discussed exit screening procedures that have been put in place in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea by CDC-trained personnel. In the past two months, this screening has stopped 77 travelers with Ebola-like symptoms or contact history from boarding planes, out of a total of 36,000 individuals screened. None of those 77, that we are aware of, has been diagnosed with Ebola. While there have been many positive aspects of this response, there have also been missteps.
“For instance, here in Dallas Mr. Duncan’s travel history was not communicated to all relevant medical personnel when he first sought treatment, which led to his release from the hospital and the potential that additional people were exposed to the virus. There were also problems removing hazardous biomedical waste from the apartment where Mr. Duncan’s family was quarantined. The soiled materials remained in the home with the quarantined individuals for days after the Ebola diagnosis was confirmed.
“We must learn from these missteps, and ensure the proper procedures are established and followed should another case arise in the United States. Going forward, we must consider all policy options for stopping the spread of this horrific disease. I have heard many ideas directly from my fellow Texans—everything from stopping inbound flights from specific countries to additional screenings at home and abroad. We hope our witnesses will discuss options that are being considered and the tradeoffs we may have to confront.
“We also have to ensure unnecessary government red tape does not slow down the response. I urge the Senate to follow the lead of the House and approve the Pentagon’s request to transfer additional resources to the fight. The Defense Department is seeking to move $750 million toward response efforts, and we should move swiftly to satisfy that request.
“Now is not the time for politics. Congress has been loathe to get much done this session, and if there has ever been a time to come together and put pettiness aside, it is now. We must get this right and make sure that federal protocols are put in place and communicated to our local and state leaders when a situation this critical occurs.
“My hope today is that we don’t focus on gotcha politics, but instead hear from our panels and focusing on a solutions based hearing. We are in the same boat. And we need to work hard to make sure that our Nation is protected from this threat. I want to thank the Ranking Member for being here in my home state of Texas in a show of support for this shared goal.
“Before we begin, I also want to commend the first responders, medical personnel, and public health officials who have responded courageously to the case here in Dallas. Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families affected by this crisis. I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panel of witnesses today on the recent response efforts and what more can be done to keep America safe.”
***See important planning note/RSVP requirement for media***
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, will hold a hearing at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to examine the coordinated federal, state and local response to the Ebola case in Dallas, Texas.
FRIDAY, October 10 at 12:00 p.m. CT
Committee on Homeland Security
Ebola in the Homeland: The Importance of Effective International, Federal, State and Local Coordination
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
In-Transit Lounge, D31, Terminal D
2333 S. International Drive, DFW Airport, Texas, 75261
· Dr. Toby Merlin, Director, Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infection, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention
· Kathryn Brinsfield, MD, MPH, FACEP, Acting Assistant Secretary and Chief Medical Officer, Office of Health Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
· Mr. John P. Wagner, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
· Dr. David L. Lakey, Commissioner of Health, Texas Department of State Health Services
· Dr. Brett P. Giroir, Executive Vice President and CEO, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Texas A&M University, Director, Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response
· Hon. Clay Jenkins, Judge, Dallas County, Texas
· Catherine L. Troisi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Management, Policy, and Community Health, Center for Infectious Diseases, The University of Texas
Chairman McCaul on the hearing: “With the interconnected nature of our world, threats to the homeland are only a flight away. Effective coordination at all levels of government and with our international partners is vital for all aspects of our security, whether it be working to combat the threat posed by terrorists such as ISIS, addressing the porous Southwest border or the prevention of Ebola reaching our shores. At this hearing key federal and state officials will discuss the efforts that have been taken to respond to the first case of Ebola in the United States. We will also examine ways we can continue to improve our preparedness and capabilities, particularly when it comes to screening passengers entering the country.”
*LIVE video of the hearing will be available here.
***Important planning note/RSVP requirement for media***
All members of the media must RSVP by 5pm on Thursday, October 9 to email@example.com
Information regarding cabling, parking and other logistics are forthcoming.
H2-176 Ford HOB
Washington, DC 20515