Katko’s bipartisan DHS counterterrorism bill passes U.S. House

Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) to align counterterrorism efforts in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Jan. 29 received resounding approval by the U.S. House of Representatives in a 414-12 vote.

“As the United States continues to face threats from terrorist organizations and extremists, it is imperative our country is well-prepared to respond,” Rep. Katko said on Tuesday. “This legislation will establish a coordinated strategy in order to stop attacks before they occur.”

The Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act of 2019, H.R. 769, would authorize that DHS coordinate all counterterrorism efforts, thereby reducing duplication of efforts within the department and minimizing both inefficiencies and wasteful spending, according to the congressman’s statement.

If enacted, H.R. 769 would establish a board within DHS to coordinate and integrate DHS’s intelligence, activities and policy related to its counterterrorism mission and functions, according to the congressional record summary.

H.R. 769 would authorize the board to advise the Secretary of DHS on issuing terrorism alerts and would meet regularly to discuss intelligence and coordinate ongoing threat mitigation efforts and departmental activities, the summary says.

Additionally, H.R. 769 would direct the DHS Secretary to appoint a Coordinator for Counterterrorism within the department who would serve as the chair of the board and report on the board’s status and activities, according to the summary.

“Americans deserve to feel secure at home and abroad. It is essential that government agencies are all on the same page when it comes to protecting Americans from terror threats,” said Rep. Katko.

H.R. 769 is the first measure sponsored by Rep. Katko to receive approval in the Democrat-controlled 116th House, according to the representative’s statement, which noted that similar measures also passed in the House during the 114th and 115th congresses.

“I introduced this legislation during the previous two congresses and it overwhelmingly passed the House each time,” the lawmaker said. “Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle clearly understand the importance of creating a cohesive counterterrorism plan and I am grateful for the support from both my Republican and Democratic colleagues on this initiative.”

Rep. Katko added that the House-approved H.R. 769 “proves not all issues need to be partisan and it is my hope this bill will be signed into law during the 116th Congress.”

Joining Rep. Katko in introducing H.R. 769 on Jan. 24 was lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) also supported the bill as a cosponsor.

The same day it received House passage, H.R. 769 was received in the U.S. Senate and referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.