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July 13, 2015

No Case for Countering Violent Extremism Office

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement on Committee Chairman Michael McCaul's rushed legislation on countering violent extremism (CVE). The markup scheduled for this Wednesday, July 15th comes before Congress has received testimony on the Department of Homeland Security's CVE efforts, and is opposed by 42 civil rights and religious groups.

Wednesday's markup, unfortunately, puts the cart before the horse on our nation's countering violent extremism efforts. There is no proposal pending for the establishment of an Office for Countering Violent Extremism from the Department of Homeland Security, there is no statement of agency position on the bill, H.R. 2899, and the Department declined my request to send an official to testify at Wednesday's hearing.

The use of social media and the Internet to recruit terrorists is a significant homeland security challenge that must be addressed. Unfortunately, the main solution Chairman McCaul's bill offers is to make bigger the bureaucracy that he has criticized so many times in the past. At the minimum, we should have received public testimony from DHS on its countering violent extremism activities, which are mainly community engagement and law enforcement training, prior to being asked to establish a new office, with new authorities and a $40 million budget.

Until we see DHS' Countering Violent Extremism strategy, there is simply no justification for granting DHS a host of new authorities and resources and expand the size of its bureaucracy. As it's currently written, I cannot support this bill. Instead, I will be offering an alternative at Wednesday's markup to require DHS to, in short order, provide Congress with a risk-based strategy, an implementation plan and metrics for programs and activities that have been validated as empirically-sound counter-terrorism approaches. My amendment rejects the inside-the-Beltway, bureaucratic response offered by H.R. 2899 in favor of requiring 'good government' fundamentals to address violent extremism.

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