House approves bills introduced by Katko to curb terrorist travel, improve national security

The House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday introduced by U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) to curb the travel of terrorists.

The House approved the National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act, H.R. 4408, and the Transportation Security Administration Reform and Improvement Act, H.R. 3584. Katko, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Task Force on Combating Foreign Fighter Travel, authored both measures.

After conducting a six-month review of travel threats posed by foreign fighters, the task force drafted an assessment of federal efforts to prevent terrorist travel and compiled a list of 50 recommendations to improve national security.

“Our task force took an in depth look at the surging threat of terrorist and foreign fighter travel, and we found that the United States lacks a coherent national strategy for keeping terrorists from infiltrating our country and crisscrossing the globe undetected,” Katko said. “(On Tuesday), the House passed legislation that I introduced to require a more substantive strategy from this administration in order to protect Americans both at home and abroad.”

The National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act would require the president to draft an “implementation plan” to streamline terrorist travel defenses and close existing loopholes.

The Transportation Security Administration Reform and Improvement Act would set priorities for congressional oversight of the Transportation Security Administration. Those priorities would include risk-based initiatives, enhanced aviation worker vetting and better airport screening technology.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), who supported the bills, said the Obama administration must develop a national security policy to address terrorist traveler risks.

“We cannot allow the threat of foreign fighters traveling to U.S. soil go unresolved,” Long said. “The administration must confront the national security risks these terrorist travelers represent with a complete national strategy to defeat them. Today’s bills were critical to making sure that this strategy will be constructed, and ensuring that our current security screening measures are thorough enough to suppress the influx of these terrorists in the meantime.”

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that Katko has shown leadership with “strong, bipartisan bills.”

“The legislation he has authored will help close security vulnerabilities and keep our country safe in this high threat environment,” McCaul said. “His bill requiring a national strategy to combat terrorist travel is badly needed. Without such a plan, we run the risk of terrorists slipping through the cracks and entering our country, undetected. Rep. Katko’s legislation will also help improve airport security at a time when extremists continue to target our aviation sector. We need these bills, and I urge the Senate to vote to send them to the president’s desk.”

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