Legislative Activity

Immigration Provision Removed from House Defense Bill

On Friday, the House passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2016, by a vote of 269 in favor and 151 against. During floor debate, the chamber narrowly approved an amendment proposed by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) stripping language from H.R. 1735 that would encourage the Pentagon consider enlisting undocumented immigrants, knowing as DREAMers, into the U.S. military in exchange for a path towards legal status. Republican leadership was concerned the original provision, offered by freshman Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of H.R. 1735, could threaten the entire bill after a group of Republicans threatened to oppose it over the proposal. The final vote on the Brooks amendment was 221 to 202, with 20 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition to removing Rep. Gallego’s provision.

House Committee To Consider Pending Legislation

This week, the House Homeland Security Committee will meet to consider pending legislation, including:

  • H.R. 2200, the CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2015, to facilitate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear intelligence and information sharing within the homeland security community;
  • H.R. 1738, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015, which would direct the Homeland Security Secretary to modernize and implement the national integrated public alert and warning system to disseminate homeland security information; and
  • Several bills aimed at curbing waste, fraud, and abuse at DHS.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, May 19: The House Judiciary Committee will host a hearing titled “Policing Strategies for the 21st Century.”
  • Tuesday, May 19: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism will host a hearing titled “Body Cameras: Can Technology Increase Protection for Law Enforcement Officers and the Public?”
  • Wednesday, May 20: The House Homeland Security Committee will meet to consider pending legislation.
  • Thursday, May 21: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing titled “Admitting Syrian Refugees: The Intelligence Void and the Emerging Homeland Security Threat.”
  • Thursday, May 21: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger to serve as Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and Assistant Secretary of at the Department of Homeland Security.

Executive Branch Activity

DHS Secretary: Global Terror Threat in ‘New Phase’

In interviews this week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stated that groups like ISIS are using social media to attract followers, bringing the U.S. to a new stage in its fight against global terrorism. Secretary Johnson explained that groups are using these tools to attract new fighters to join them in the Middle East or even launch attacks in the U.S. He noted that “Because of the use of the Internet, we could have little, or no, notice in advance of an independent attacker attempting to strike. And so, that’s why law enforcement at the local level needs to be ever more vigilant, and we’re constantly reminding them to do that.” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey recently warned that there may be thousands of ISIS followers in the U.S.; federal law enforcement agents are reportedly undertaking hundreds of investigations to determine who may pose a threat to the homeland.

Congress will most certainly take an increased interest in this issue, especially following the attack earlier this month on an event in Dallas, Texas, with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. In fact, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence will consider risks posed by admitting refugees from Syria in a hearing this week.