CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 549 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Representative Peter King (R-NY) on January 15, 2009.
H.R. 549 directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an Office for Bombing Prevention within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The primary responsibility of the Office will be to coordinate efforts towards deterring, detecting, preventing and responding to explosive terrorist attacks within the U.S. The office will also maintain a national analysis database detailing the capabilities of bomb squads and related response teams and close any identifiable gaps in security and promote secure information sharing of sensitive material to promote security awareness.
Canine Program: H.R. 553 requires DHS to partner with other federal, State, local, and tribal entities to develop a pilot program that includes a domestic breeding program for purpose-bred explosives detection canines.
National Strategy: The Secretary will develop and periodically update a national strategy to prevent and prepare for the occurrence of explosive terrorist attacks within the U.S.
Technology Availability: The Secretary is to establish a technology transfer program to ensure that military and non-military equipment and information for use in the detection, prevention, and response to explosive terrorist attacks in the U.S. are commercialized and made available for use by federal, State, local and tribal governments.
On June 18, 2008, the House passed identical legislation to this bill by voice vote, but it was never considered by the Senate.
The purpose of H.R. 549 is primarily to mitigate the threat of terrorist bombings within the United States. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are a popular mode of attack among terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. IEDs are commonly used in Iraq and Afghanistan because they are relatively cheap and easy to produce and deploy. These bombs have also been used against civilian targets in London, Madrid, and Mumbai.
Currently, the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) of DHS performs research and develops methods to detect and mitigate the threat of improvised explosive devices. TSL is a Department of Homeland Security Federal Laboratory located at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City International Airport, New Jersey, and is a part of the Science and Technology Directorate of DHS.
H.R. 549 authorizes $10 million for fiscal year 2009, $25 million for fiscal years 2010 through 2012, and such sums as may be necessary for each subsequent year.