Legislative Activity

Secretary of Homeland Security

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced last Friday that she will be stepping down from her position to become the next president of the University of California system. She will continue to serve as Secretary until early September during which time President Obama will nominate her replacement.

Immigration Reform

The House Republicans held a special conference meeting last week to discuss their plans for immigration reform. While there was little progress made on the strategy, the House will use to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, the meeting attendees reiterated their opposition to the Senate immigration bill (S. 744) that passed prior to the Fourth of July recess. Despite disagreements over a number of immigration-related issues, one area that many House Republicans agree on is the need for strong border security measures. As such it is likely that House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) bill, the Border Security Results Act of 2013 (H.R. 1417), may be one of the first immigration bills to move to the House floor.

Background Check Oversight

Last week, a bipartisan group of members from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee introduced a bill that seeks to improve background checks and security clearance processes for contractors and government employees. The Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement Act would require the government to review its policies that dictate which positions require a security clearance, as well as define disciplinary measures for background check investigators or contractors that take part in falsifying reports. The legislation was introduced in response to an inspector’s general report that stated that at least 18 investigators were convicted of falsifying investigations since 2007.

Abu Dhabi Pre-Clearance Facility. Congress continues to look into the proposed Abu Dhabi pre-clearance facility that came out of a deal between the Obama Administration and the United Arab Emirates in April. The facility would pre-clear passengers and air cargo that are moving from Abu Dhabi to the U.S. and would provide tangible national security benefits, according to the Acting Deputy Commissioner for Customs and Border Control Kevin McAleenan at a hearing last week. Members of Congress are still skeptical about the economic impact that this facility will have on American companies and airlines competing in foreign subsidized countries and are likely to continue to look into the proposed facility.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted last week to advance the nomination of B. Todd Jones to be the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Bureau has not had a director for seven years due to opposition among Senate Republicans that have worked to prevent the confirmation of a director to the agency. Jones’ nomination has been closely scrutinized after an Office of Special Counsel investigation that looked into charges against Jones when he was working as a U.S. attorney in Minnesota.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, July 16: At 11:00am, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security will mark up its FY 2014 Homeland Security appropriations bill. The full committee is likely to mark up the bill on Thursday, July 18.
  • Wednesday, July 17: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Department of Homeland Security at 10 Years: Harnessing Science and Technology to Protect National Security and Enhance Government Efficiency” at 10:00am.
  • Wednesday, July 17: At 10:00am, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security will hold a hearing titled “Stakeholder Perspectives on TSA Acquisition Reform.”
  • Wednesday, July 17: At 10:15am, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security will hold a hearing titled “Border Security Oversight, Part III: Examining Asylum Requests.”