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Monday, February 6, 2023

Dems Announce House HS Committee Terrorist Travel Task Force Members; Make Demands

House Committee on Homeland Security Democrats announced today the Democratic membership of the Committee’s Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States. Full Committee Vice Ranking Member Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) will serve as the Task Force Ranking Member.

Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) announced the creation of the Task Force late last month. The bipartisan panel, comprising five Republican and three Democratic committee members, is slated to commence work in March and will provide a final report with its findings later this year. The Task Force will examine all pathways by which extremists might infiltrate the homeland and will seek to identify gaps in US government information sharing and vetting procedures. Fixing potential weaknesses in these systems will go a long way towards improving America’s defenses against terrorism.”

Read the committee’s full report on last Congress’ Task Force on Combatting Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel here.

“In the current threat environment, stopping terrorists will continue to be a top committee priority,” McCaul said. “Closing gaps in our counterterrorism screening and vetting procedures is especially important in the face of continuing global instability and the desire of ISIS and other terrorist groups to strike the West. The Task Force Members have a difficult mission ahead of them, but the threat is real and we must act in close coordination with the Administration to best protect Americans from those who wish us harm.”

Coleman, along with the Democratic Task Force members, sent a letter to Task Force Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) outlining priorities and requesting more detailed information on Task Force policies.

Coleman said today, “Keeping our country safe is a bipartisan concern. [Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)], [Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA)] and I are committed to working to advance policies to help prevent terrorism, including keeping dangerous individuals who pose a threat from traveling to the United States. Reviewing the current and future Trump Administration Executive Orders regarding travel to the United States will be our top priority for this Task Force. It is imperative that we ensure that the robust security measures put in place by previous administrations are neither weakened by nor exploited by terrorists.”

“In the past, terrorists have exploited legitimate channels of travel to the United States from countries around the globe with the intention of harming our country. It is imperative that we work together in a bipartisan way to ensure the American people that we have the right policies in place to prevent terrorist travel,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security. “With new national security Executive Orders put in place without robust Congressional oversight, we must be honest about the effectiveness of these policies and their real world implications.”

In their letter to Gallagher, Coleman, Jackson Lee and Barragán stated, “We commence our work at a critical time, as Americans will be looking to us to tackle legitimate and timely questions about the January 27 and the March 6 Executive Orders entitled, ‘Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.’ Reviewing the current and future Trump Administration Executive Orders regarding terrorist travel to the United States is imperative to ensuring that the robust security measures put in place by previous administrations are neither weakened by the Trump Administration nor exploited by terrorists.”

“As part of this inquiry,” they wrote, “we must evaluate to what extent these Executive Orders address the real concerns and needs of the Intelligence Community regarding terrorist travel. As you look to schedule Task Force activities, we respectfully request that you adopt certain policies to ensure maximum participation of members, many of whom already sit on multiple subcommittees, during this six-month period.”

Specifically, they urged Gallagher to agree to the following:

  • All Task Force briefings, hearings, site visits and meetings to be noticed at least one week in advance;
  • No Task Force activities to be scheduled concurrently with other noticed committee on homeland security activities;
  • No more than four hearings be held during the six-month period;
  • Briefings with federal agencies be held at the lowest classification level possible; and
  • Members of the Task Force have first right of refusal to participate in any foreign travel associated with Task Force business.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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