WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday calling for a major restructuring of government to better protect the American public from terrorist threats made against them within U.S. borders.
Senators Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Bob Graham, D-Fla., joined with Representatives Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, Jane Harman, D-Calif., Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., and James Gibbons, R-Nev., in introducing the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002, which would focus federal attention and resources on securing our borders and protecting the critical infrastructure.
The proposal calls for a Department of National Homeland Security, at cabinet level, to plan and coordinate federal activities relating to homeland security, including border security and emergency preparedness. It would also act as a central coordinator for natural and manmade crises and emergency planning. The legislation also creates a White House Office of Combating Terrorism to oversee a unified, government-wide, anti-terrorism policy. The office would coordinate threat assessments, craft and oversee a National Strategy to Combat Terrorism, and exercise budget certification authority over spending to combat terrorism.
?It seems that nearly every day, new cracks in America’s homeland defense foundation are exposed ? at our borders, our airports, our federal buildings, and our ports,? Lieberman said. ?That’s why we must mobilize government so that it can quickly and effectively reduce terrorist threats here at home and react without hesitation should the worst occur. Without a government that is permanently reoriented to meet these unexpected challenges, new vulnerabilities will constantly emerge.?
?The threat to our homeland and border security is so serious that the United States needs more than a presidential advisor and coordinator to perform this important mission,? said Senator Specter. ?We require a cabinet-level secretary with the appropriate resources to further institutionalize the position and guarantee that the person holding the position has the legal authority to act.?
?The bill being introduced today incorporates the principles originally embodied in S.1449, which would give statutory authority to the White House counterterrorism coordinator, and fuses them with a new Department of Homeland Security,? said Senator Graham, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. ?The new department will ensure that the preventive mission of the National Office for Combating Terrorism fits within a larger strategy of border security, infrastructure prevention, and disaster response.?
The department would be composed of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Customs Service, Border Patrol and INS enforcement, the Coast Guard, Agriculture quarantine inspectors, and two smaller infrastructure protection offices.
The secretary of the department would be nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and would be a member of the National Security Council. His or her duties would include developing policies to promote homeland security, working with state and local governments, conducting exercising and training programs, and developing a response plan.
The director of the White House office – who also would be appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and an advisor to the National Security Council – would review an assessment of terrorist threats, and develop and execute, with the secretary, a strategy to combat terrorism.
The director would work with the department secretary on the annual budget, and would exercise budget review and certification authority.
NATIONAL HOMELAND SECURITY
AND COMBATING TERRORISM ACT OF 2002
Introduced May 2, 2002 By Senators Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, Jane Harman, D-Calif., Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., and James Gibbons, R-Nev.
The proposed legislation calls for formation of a Department of National Homeland Security, at cabinet level, to plan, coordinate, and integrate U.S. Government activities relating to homeland security, including border security and emergency preparedness, and to act as a focal
point regarding natural and manmade crises and emergency planning. The legislation creates a White House Office of Combating Terrorism to coordinate threat assessments, to craft and oversee a National Strategy to Combat Terrorism, and exercise budget certification authority over spending to combat terrorism.
The Department Secretary
The Secretary would be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Secretary would be a member of the National Security Council.
The Department Secretary?s Duties
The Secretary?s duties would include: Developing policies, goals, and plans to promote homeland security
Working with state and local governments to protect homeland security
Conducting exercise and training programs for federal employees involved in
Establishing effective command and control procedures for the range of potential contingencies, including those that may require military support
Developing a response plan for homeland security and emergency preparedness
The Department?s Composition
The authorities, functions, personnel and assets of the following agencies would be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its 10 regional offices
The United States Customs Service
Immigration and Naturalization Service enforcement functions, including the Border
The United States Coast Guard
The Agriculture Department quarantine inspector functions
The Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office now located within the Commerce Department
The National Infrastructure Protection Center and the National Domestic Preparedness Office, now located within the FBI
An office of Science and Technology would be established to advise the Secretary on research and development and other science priorities. The bill authorizes $200 million to help develop homeland security technologies.
The Department?s Organization
The Department would be divided into three sections: border security, protecting critical infrastructure, including computer systems, and emergency preparedness and response.
Director of the National Office for Combating Terrorism within the White House
The director would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The director would be an advisor to the National Security Council
The Director?s Duties
The director?s duties will include:
Developing and reviewing a comprehensive national assessment of terrorist threats
Developing, with the department secretary, a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism
Coordinating and overseeing the execution of the strategy by federal agencies
Developing, with the department secretary, an annual budget to implement the strategy
Exercising budget review and certification authority over programs in the terrorism prevention and response budget.
National Strategy to Combat Terrorism
The National Strategy to Combat Terrorism will be developed collaboratively by the department secretary and the White House director.
The secretary will have the lead role on issues of border security, critical infrastructure protection, emergency preparation and response, and
integration with state and local efforts.
The director will take the lead on strategic planning concerning intelligence and military assets, law enforcement and diplomacy.
A non-partisan, nine-member panel of outside experts will be established to provide an assessment of the terrorism strategy.