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December 02, 2016

Bill to Enhance DHS Overseas Operations Passes House

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the House Representatives voted on the Conference Report for S. 2943, the FY2017 Defense Authorization Act.  This bill includes bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, to strengthen international border security efforts, including Customs and Border Protection’s Preclearance program and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Visa Security Program.

This language requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a Department-wide strategy for overseas screening and vetting programs. This strategy will help ensure that when DHS prioritizes expanding Preclearance or seeks to establish Visa Security Units, these efforts are coordinated and aligned with the Department’s risk-based priorities. Currently, DHS has 1,800 personnel overseas assisting in these efforts.  The original legislation, the Department of Homeland Security Strategy for International Programs Act (H.R. 4780), originally passed the House in May 2016.

Ranking Member Thompson released the following statement on the legislation:

“Today’s passage of the Defense Authorization Act contains bipartisan language I included to ensure DHS is on a solid footing as it ‘pushes out’ our borders in its mission to protect the homeland.  It is imperative that DHS have a risk-based strategy to expand its presence and partnerships around the world to prevent terrorist travel and ensure proper vetting of U.S.-bound passengers. I thank my colleagues for working with me on passage of this legislation and look forward to continuing our work together to ensure DHS is operating as effectively as possible.”

Legislation authored by Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Ranking Member of the Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee, was also included in the Conference Report.  It requires DHS to develop a comprehensive Department-wide strategy to carry out its cybersecurity responsibilities to resolve vulnerabilities and avoid future cyber-attacks (the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy Act of 2015 – H.R. 3510). This legislation was introduced in response to a September 2015 report by the DHS Inspector General that recommended that it develop a comprehensive, cross-departmental strategic implementation plan to make progress in unifying cyber incident response and coordination efforts.

Legislation authored by Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Committee’s Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications Subcommittee, was also included in the Conference Report.  It would bring local government officials and first responders together with public health officials, representatives from local educational institutions, and other key local stakeholders to assist in preparation and revision of local homeland security plans and to assist in determining grant funding priorities (the State and High-Risk Urban Area Working Group Act – H.R. 4509).

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978