Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) to bolster counterterrorism efforts overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives this afternoon.
The Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act, one of several recommendations released by the bipartisan task force chaired by Rep. Katko on Combating Foreign Fighter Travel, establishes a Counterterrorism Advisory Board (CTAB) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate and integrate departmental intelligence, activities, and policy related to counterterrorism. While this panel, which brings together top counterterrorism officials in DHS to respond to and preempt threats, has existed since 2010, Rep. Katko’s Task Force found that the CTAB had not been codified, nor had its charter kept pace with today’s evolving terrorist threats. Today’s legislation remedies that oversight and will help ensure that DHS is effectively integrating intelligence, operations, and policy to fight terrorism and quickly exchange threat information.
“It is critical that we continue our efforts in Congress to combat the threat of ISIS. With ongoing counterterrorism investigations in all 50 states, we must act to strengthen the programs that address these threats,” said Rep. John Katko “Today’s legislation does just that, by ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security is acting efficiently and collaboratively to respond to the threat of global terrorism. I will continue to seek opportunities to work with both sides of the aisle in Congress to keep this country safe.”
Specifically, this bipartisan legislation:
- Updates the CTAB Charter to better enable it to confront tomorrow’s challenges and requires the Secretary to appoint a Coordinator for Counterterrorism to oversee the board’s activities.
- Requires the CTAB to advise the Secretary on the issuance of terrorism alerts, ensuring that top counterterrorism and intelligence officials play a key role in delivering these critical notices to the public.
- Ensures continued Congressional oversight by requiring DHS to report on the status and activities of the CTAB so that we can be certain it is meeting its mandate.
Rep. Katko’s bill was one of 17 national security measures to pass the House today.
Chairman McCaul said, “I commend the leadership of Congressman Katko on his legislation to bolster the security of our homeland. These 17 House passed Homeland Security Committee bills are all common sense solutions to improve our border security, counterterrorism posture, transportation security, and cyber defenses, as well as enhancing first responder capabilities, and streamlining the management efficiency of the Department of Homeland Security. The sooner these critical bills pass the Senate and become law, the safer the American homeland and our people will be.”
The Task Force on Combating Foreign Fighter Travel released its final report in September 2015, including 50 recommendations for improving national security. Since that time, Rep. Katko has worked on the House Homeland Security Committee to act legislatively on many of these items.