House votes to reauthorize Department of Homeland Security
The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security.
The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition.
If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“To stay ahead of America’s threats, we need a national security apparatus that can best adapt to new challenges as they arise. The threats we face have evolved in the past 15 years, and we must not only keep up with the evolution of the threats, we need to stay in front of them,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said.
The legislation reauthorizes and makes some updates to counterterrorism, emergency preparedness and maritime security programs within the DHS, as well as the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Coast Guard, Secret Service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Some changes include requiring the Secret Service director to be confirmed by the Senate, instead of appointed directly by the president. It also would prevent the secretary of Homeland Security from appointing assistant secretaries without the approval of Congress.
The reauthorization also directs the Secret Service to increase the annual number of training hours for officers and agents, but the legislation doesn’t specify by how much.
The Transportation Security Administration, meanwhile, would be under orders to develop a plan to reduce the number of senior executives at the agency by 20 percent in the next two years.
The legislation further authorizes $800 million each year through 2022 for the Urban Area Security Initiative, which is $195 million above the current spending level. The program serves to help urban areas with building the capabilities necessary to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism.
Lawmakers easily passed the bill as one of the last votes before leaving Washington for the week on Thursday.
The libertarian-leaning House Liberty Caucus issued a statement in opposition to the legislation, warning that it had been rushed to the floor without enough vetting.
The DHS reauthorization was not originally on the schedule for this week and was considered under a process used for noncontroversial bills that prevents amendments and requires a two-thirds majority for passage.
“Such a vast, significant piece of legislation demands debate and input from the full membership of the House of Representatives. Instead, this bill overhauling the department and authorizing billions of dollars is being rushed to the floor, ensuring representatives have no time to vet its countless provisions,” the Liberty Caucus said in its statement.