WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, outlined his key priorities as he takes on a new leadership role in the 117th Congress. Peters, who previously served as the committee’s Ranking Member, will continue to focus on bolstering the federal government’s Coronavirus pandemic response, strengthening national security – including combating the rising threats of domestic terrorism and cyber-attacks – and ensuring government is working efficiently and using taxpayer dollars responsibly. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has broad jurisdiction over national security issues and government operations, and is the Senate’s primary oversight body.
“From cyber-attacks and the rise of domestic terrorism to a deadly pandemic – there is no question that the American people continue to face persistent and pernicious threats,” said Chairman Peters. “As the Chairman, I am committed to bringing this committee’s stature and resources to take on wide-ranging threats at a national level and address their local impact on Michigan’s diverse communities. From securing our Northern Border and boosting Michigan’s role as a hub for international commerce, to shoring up cybersecurity vulnerabilities and addressing the rise of white supremacist and anti-government violence – I’ll continue my efforts to ensure the federal government is fulfilling its top mission to keep Americans safe.”
Peters continued: “Congress has a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and that the government is providing high quality services to people in Michigan and across the country. Whether it’s working to preserve the U.S. Postal Service’s longstanding tradition of reliable delivery, cutting wasteful spending or conducting thorough oversight of government programs, I will continue working to make government more efficient and effective for all of the people it serves.”
Peters’ initial priorities as Chairman include:
- Securing Communities Against Rising Domestic Terrorism and Violence: In 2019, Peters secured the committee’s first domestic terrorism hearing with a focus on white supremacist violence. Peters also secured the expansion of a successful grant program that helps houses of worship and other nonprofits protect their facilities from potential attacks. In recent years, violence driven by white supremacist and anti-government ideologies has continued to rise and lead to real world harm – most recently with the thwarted plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor and the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Peters has announced he will conduct an investigation and convene hearings on this deadly and growing threat to American communities.
- Ensuring Strong Coronavirus Pandemic Response and Oversight: The unprecedented health and economic crisis brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic have only been made worse by the federal government’s failures to adequately prepare or respond. Peters is continuing to push for effective response efforts, including ensuing vaccines are widely available, to help control the pandemic. Leveraging the committee’s role as the Senate’s primary oversight body, Peters has announced he will examine the federal government’s planning, coordination and execution of prevention and response efforts of the pandemic that has taken the lives more than 440,000 Americans.
- Promoting Secure Borders and Boosting Michigan’s Role as a Hub for International Commerce: Last year, a Peters bill was signed into law to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industries at the border. As the Chairman, Peters will continue to push for Michigan’s busy Northern Border crossings – including the Blue Water Bridge and the forthcoming Gordie Howe Bridge customs plazas – to get sufficient funding and personnel to ensure trade and travel can continue to move securely and efficiently. Peters will also continue his efforts to ensure that Michigan’s Great Lakes ports can compete on a level playing field – including addressing practices that have unfairly blocked the Port of Monroe from accepting certain types of cargo.
- Strengthening Cybersecurity at all Levels: Cyber-attacks are one of the greatest security threats facing our nation, and any organization could be a target. Peters has worked to address recent attacks and breaches that have targeted K-12 schools, small businesses, state and local governments, and even the federal government. Peters announced he will convene hearings and work on legislation to strengthen American cyber defenses across the board.
- Ensuring Government is Working Efficiently and Saving Taxpayer Dollars: Peters has a strong record of working to ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly. A Peters-backed bill to help save billions of federal taxpayer dollars by curbing erroneous payments to deceased individuals was signed into law last year. Peters also released a report detailing how the Trump Administration sent more than 1 million stimulus payments – costing taxpayers approximately $1.4 billion – to deceased Americans as part of the first Coronavirus relief spending Congress passed in March 2020. As Ranking Member, Peters fought to restore on-time delivery by the U.S. Postal Service after Postmaster General DeJoy made changes that led to harmful mail delays. Peters will continue to build on these efforts to strengthen government efficiency and prevent waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer resources.
In addition to chairing the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the 117th Congress.