Tex Rep. McCaul's Bill to Reauthorize Homeland Security Department Headed to Senate

A House bill that would streamline the Department of Homeland Security in its first reorganization since 9/11 is headed to the Senate after easily passing the house.Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, R-West Lake Hills, sponsored the bill, which would reauthorize for the agency created after the 9/11 terrorism attacks. The bill passed late Thursday would require congressional approval for DHS organizational changes -- which is not currently the case, consolidate and streamline several offices, and authorize Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the first time.But McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has been riding herdon the legislation for a while. With some help from House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) last January, McCaul coordinated with the chairs of all of the other committees with jurisdiction over DHS to lead over the reauthorization effort."It addresses the ever-evolving threats of our dangerous world. It also supports our nation's first responders who put themselves in harm's way every day," Ryan said in a statement. "I applaud the overwhelming bipartisan passage of this legislation.""This kind of streamlines the department, eliminates waste where we can find it, and holds them more accountable to the taxpayer while making them operate more efficiently," McCaul said. The bill also "went above and beyond what the president's request was" for counterrorism grants, he added.The bill's direct support of ICE also ties into the President Donald Trump's executive order to hire 10,000 more ICE agents, including 1,000 this fiscal year alone. "This bill reflects my strong commitment to ending illegal immigration and fully enforcing the laws of the United States," Trump said in a statement. "I look forward to signing this important legislation and I encourage the United States Senate to take it up without delay."McCaul acknowledged ICE as a possible sticking point that the bill tried to get around by leaving the agency's specifics for the judiciary committee to address in a separate bill on interior enforcement. "Strictly authorizing the office without a ton of policy provisions in there, was where we were able to get a lot of democratic support," he said.Despite all 11 co-sponsors being Republicans, including Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, the bill garnered Democratic support in its passage in a 386-41 vote. "That was what we were trying to accomplish-- strong bipartisan support," McCaul said. "Without that I don't think we could get it through the Senate."However, for some it was not enough. Five Texas representatives were among the 41 nays -- Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio; Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin; Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Tyler; Rep. Al Green, D-Houston; and Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth."I refuse to be complicit in supporting President Trump's mass deportation machine," Veasey said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News. "I support keeping our country safe, but not at the expense of throwing millions of dollars at an ineffective border wall and unnecessary increases of ICE agents and immigration detention beds."Plain and simple, too many lives in my district would be unjustly uprooted if the Department of Homeland Security authorization bill passed as it was written," he added.Some other changes in the bill include requiring the Secret Service director to be confirmed by the Senate, instead of appointed directly by the president. Congress also would have to approve appointment of any assistant secretaries of Homeland Security.The bill does not have a date scheduled for a Senate appearance, and the chamber has largely been preoccupied in trying to finish healthcare negotiations before the August recess. But McCaul cited support from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate committee on Homeland Security, in trying to get the bill to the Senate floor quickly.“The next steps are to fast track this bill through the Senate,” he said, citing support from DHS Secretary John Kelly. “(Kelly) and I are both going to be working hard over on the Senate side.”  Continue reading...

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