January 10, 2018
This week, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) voted for a series of bills that would establish new grant programs to protect vulnerable targets within our country, increase coordination between local, state, and federal government, implement new technologies to identify and prevent terrorist threats, and allow testing of new screening technologies at airports.
Rep. Peters released the following statement:
“Our number one priority in Congress is to protect the American people from all threats, domestic and foreign,” said Rep. Peters. “While President Trump wants to recklessly spend $18 billion on a 700-mile expansion of the existing border wall that won’t help protect our country or keep San Diegans safe, the action taken this week by the House of Representatives puts forward real, efficient solutions toward strengthening our national security. San Diegan officials know that the most effective ways to increase our national and border security are through new technology, increased communication between all levels of government, and using state-of-the-art screening tactics in our airports and ports of entry.”
Below are the most significant national security bills passed by the House this week:
The Securing American Non-Profit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2017 creates a new grant program, which would be intended to protect faith-based communities from threats. In San Diego for example, the Congregation Beth Israel installed car proof batteries around their main entrance last year during the High Holy Days to protect against car ramming. The Jewish Community Center (JCC) received three bomb threats in 2017, two resulting in evacuations. These grants would provide much-needed funds to help protect their campus from future threats. If passed into law, the congregation and the JCC could seek partial reimbursement for the cost of these upgrades.
The Counter Terrorist Network Act permanently establishes the National Targeting Center (NTC), which uses new technology to neutralize terrorist threats by sharing that information with other law enforcement agencies. The bill would also authorize the NTC to work international agencies and state, local, and tribal governments toward providing secure borders. San Diego has the busiest border in the world and coordination between all government entities is essential to strengthening our border. Peters responded to the Trump’s administration request for $18 billion in funding for a new border wall with a release mapping out his own plan to enhance border security.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Overseas Personnel Enhancement Act of 2017 directs the DHS to brief Congress regarding the airport passenger screening methods currently used by the department outside of the United States. After the briefing takes place, the DHS will have 90 days to submit a plan on how to enhance those operations abroad. This helps ensure proper screening of individuals before they land in the United States.
The SAFE TECH Act requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to create a process that can be utilized by third-party vendors to test new screening technologies at airports. TSA would include a set of testing parameters and share appropriate information with other global government entities, including the European Civil Aviation Conference.
The Global Aviation System Security Reform Act of 2017 directs the TSA to conduct a global study of best practices for screening passengers and employees at airports and then report its findings to Congress. It must also identify when foreign airports are using improper security protocols and investigate the risks of cyber-attacks on screening equipment.
The Counterterrorism Information Sharing Improvement Act of 2017 directs the President to coordinate biometric data sharing among relevant federal agencies to ensure DHS has access to credible threat information obtained by other departments.