Lawmakers Pass Counterterrorism Measures in Wake of Orlando Shooting
On Thursday, June 16, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5471, the Counter Terrorist Radicalization Act, which combines three previously-passed bills to counter terrorist recruitment and extremism, by a vote of 402 to 15. House leaders repackaged the measures – H.R. 4401, the ALERT Act of 2016; H.R. 4820, the Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act of 2016; and H.R. 4407, the Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act of 2016 – in hopes of that the Senate could act quickly to pass the measures following the Orlando shooting attack on June 12.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) lauded the chamber’s action in a joint statement, saying “Our city streets have become the frontlines in the war against radical Islamist terror. To honor the memory of the victims in Orlando, we must rededicate ourselves to preventing terrorists from gaining a foothold in our communities. . . . Make no mistake, after this latest attack in our homeland, our resolve is strengthened and we are more determined than ever to take the fight to the enemy, no matter where they emerge.”
This Week’s Hearings:
- On Tuesday, June 21, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Ideology of ISIS.”
- On Tuesday, June 21, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Preparedness, Response, and Communications will hold a hearing titled “Protecting our Passengers: Perspectives on Securing Transportation in New Jersey and New York.”
- On Tuesday, June 21, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a joint hearing titled “Radicalization in the U.S. and the Rise of Terrorism.”
- On Wednesday, June 22, the House Appropriations Committee will mark up its Fiscal Year 2017 Homeland Security Bill.
- On Wednesday, June 22, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation will hold a hearing titled “Part II: Flying Blind: What Are The Security Risks of Resuming U.S. Commercial Air Service to Cuba?”
- On Wednesday, June 22, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Renewing Communities and Providing Opportunities Through Innovative Solutions to Poverty.”
- On Wednesday, June 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled “Oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
- On Thursday, June 23, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Terrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing titled “Counterintelligence and Insider Threats: How Prepared Is the Department of Homeland Security?”
Executive Branch Activity
On June 15, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new terrorism advisory to address the threat of homegrown terrorism and update a previous bulletin issued in December 2015 set to expire this month. The new advisory will expire November 15 of this year.
The December bulletin described the ever-increasing risk of terrorist-inspired attacks on U.S. territory as the global terrorism landscape continues to evolve. This sentiment was reflected in the new update, which states that “In this environment, we are particularly concerned about homegrown violent extremists who could strike with little or no notice. The tragic events of Orlando several days ago reinforce this. Accordingly, increased public vigilance and awareness continue to be of utmost importance.”
Citing recent violence in San Bernardino, Paris, Brussels, and Orlando, this latest update to the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) describes the possibility of terrorist-inspired attacks on a wide and diverse selection of targets across the United States. It also discusses the U.S. government’s current counterterrorism efforts and explains how the public can help with, be prepared for, and stay informed about emerging threats on the homeland.
Additionally, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Orlando this week to visit with survivors and the families of victims in the aftermath of the shooting. The President delivered remarks calling the attack an act of terror and hate and continued to highlight the need for gun control reform, citing the shooter’s use of a high-powered assault rifle to carry out the attack. He stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, is engaged in an ongoing investigation of the event and that there is currently no credible knowledge of other potential attacks in the U.S.