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Thursday, December 8, 2022

House Moves Slate of Bills on Transportation Security, Cybersecurity, Terrorism

The House of Representatives passed a series of bills aimed at securing the homeland this week, including three that deal specifically with transportation security.

Here is a brief look at those bills:

H.R. 5081: Surface Transportation Security and Technology Accountability Act of 2018

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Katko (R-N.Y.), would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish the Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee to advise the TSA on surface transportation security.

H.R. 5730: Transportation Security Technology Innovation Reform Act of 2018

Also sponsored by Katko, this bill would create a TSA systems integration facility to test and evaluate advanced transportation security screening technology. The bill would direct the TSA to work with transportation stakeholders to identify and foster innovation of new screening technologies, streamline the overall technology processes of the TSA and ensure the efficiency of such processes.

H.R. 5766: Securing Public Areas of Transportation Facilities Act of 2018

Sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), this bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a working group to promote collaboration between DHS and public and private sector stakeholders to develop non-binding recommendations for enhancing security in public transportation facilities. DHS would be tasked with providing operators of surface transportation assets with technical assistance to enhance the safety of public transportation areas, as well as publish best practices for protecting public transportation facilities. Additionally, it would require that TSA submit a review of regulations, directives, policies and procedures regarding the transportation of a firearm and ammunition to specified congressional committees.

The rest of the bills address issues such as cybersecurity and terrorism.

For example, H.R. 5733, the DHS Industrial Control Systems Capabilities Enhancement Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), would require the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center maintain capabilities to identify threats to control systems. And H.R. 5094, the Enhancing Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative Act, sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), would require the secretary of Homeland Security improve suspicious activity reporting to prevent terrorism.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said improving the United States’ ability to protect the homeland is imperative in an evolving world.

“In today’s dynamic threat environment, we must continually evaluate and improve our readiness and response to any threat to our homeland,” McCaul said in a statement. “… It is critical that DHS and its partners have every tool necessary to protect American citizens and I am glad to see the House act in a bipartisan manner on these national security bills.”

Additionally, the House passed a fourth committee bill dealing with the opioid epidemic: H.R. 5762, the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.). The House passed three others last week.

McCaul lauded the House on taking steps in the right direction when it comes to battling opioids in America.

“While we are taking positive steps toward combating the opioid epidemic that persists to destroy American lives, we must continue to do more. H.R. 5762 allows DHS to establish a Joint Task Force to help prohibit narcotics, such as fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids from entering the United States, and strengthens partnerships between federal agencies and the private sector,” he said. “Stopping the flow of illegal drugs into our country will allow for a stronger and more secure America.”

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