Legislative Activity

Syria Military Force Authorization

A small but growing group of lawmakers are supporting the authorization of military force in Syria by arguing that a strike could keep the Assad regime’s chemical weapons supply out of the hands of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) stated last Tuesday, September 3,

“No one wants to be asked why we failed to act if the next time Sarin is used it is in the Paris or New York subway.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a Syria joint resolution last Wednesday, September 4. The House will not debate the issue until it returns from recess this week.  While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) expects to vote by the end of this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has stated that the process could accommodate “a couple weeks of debate.”

Immigration and Border Security

An aide to Leader Cantor has stated that GOP leaders “hope to consider legislation” addressing immigration reform in October and do not think the Syria and debt ceiling debates will alter that timeline.  Five immigration bills have already been introduced in the House, and House Republicans are expected to introduce two more bills.  Aides still expect the Border Security Results Act (H.R. 1417), introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) to be the first bill debated on the floor along with the Skills Act.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, September 10: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security will hold a hearing titled “Fulfilling a Key 9/11 Commission Recommendation: Implementing Biometric Exit.”
  • Wednesday, September 11: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Department of Homeland Security at 10 years: Examining Challenges and Achievements and Addressing Emerging Threats.”

Regulatory Activity

TSA Precheck Program

The Transportation Security Administration announced last Wednesday, September 4 that it will transition its 100 expedited security screening “PreCheck” lines from pilot status this fall, and will add PreCheck lines to 60 more airports.  The program will now be expanded to all travelers, instead of just members of certain frequent flier programs.  Travelers will need to submit an application, pay an $85 enrollment fee, and provide fingerprints to be eligible for the PreCheck program.  Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expects that 25 percent of air passengers will qualify for expedited security screening by the end of 2013.