WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas to examine what resources and authorities DHS needs to address evolving and persistent security threats, such as domestic terrorism, potential attacks from unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and cyber-attacks. Lawmakers and Secretary Mayorkas also discussed what the Department requires to effectively secure and operate our nation’s borders.
“The Department of Homeland Security and its dedicated employees have faced no shortage of challenging missions over the past few years,” said Peters during his opening statement. “Today’s hearing is an important opportunity for Secretary Mayorkas to detail the Department’s plans for the resources included in the President’s 2024 budget request, so that the Committee can assess what resources and authorities DHS needs to fulfill its critical missions to safeguard our nation from rapidly evolving security threats.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.
National security officials have said that domestic terrorism, and in particular white supremacist and anti-government violence, is the greatest terrorism threat to our communities. During the hearing, Peters discussed the findings of a report he released last year, which found that DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have failed to effectively track and report data on the domestic terrorism threat despite being required to do so by a 2019 law spearheaded by Peters. This lack of information has limited Congress’ ability to determine whether agencies like DHS are effectively combatting the threat from white supremacist and anti-government violent extremists. During the hearing, Peters pressed Secretary Mayorkas on how he has worked to shift resources across the agency to address domestic terrorism.
The increasing numbers of registered unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – commonly known as drones – create a higher risk of both unintentional disasters and malicious activity from nefarious actors that seek to weaponize drones or engage in illegal activities. Mayorkas and Peters discussed how DHS’ current authorities to prevent attacks from UAS – which are set to expire – are not sufficient to address this growing threat. At the hearing, Peters said he plans to reintroduce bipartisan legislation this Congress that would reauthorize and strengthen DHS’ ability to protect the public and critical infrastructure from threats posed by drones.
The hearing also discussed what resources and personnel DHS requires to securely and efficiently facilitate travel and trade across our nation’s Northern and Southern borders. Peters asked Mayorkas how the Administration is preparing to manage anticipated changes in migration following the termination of the Title 42 public health order next month. Peters also raised the need to continue investing in non-intrusive inspection (NII) equipment, which has enabled Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to seize dangerous drugs like fentanyl before they reach our communities.
Finally, the hearing examined the threat of relentless cyber-attacks from criminal hackers and foreign adversaries. Peters emphasized the importance of quickly implementing his landmark law that – for the first time – requires all critical infrastructure sectors to report cyber-attacks and ransomware payments to the federal government.