WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) sponsored legislation to defeat ISIS abroad while enhancing efforts to protect Americans from terrorism at home. The first measure, S.2377, introduced by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is based on proposals from Senate national security committees, including provisions drafted by Sen. Carper in his role as the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Carper also introduced his own bill, Community Partnership Act of 2015 (S. 2369), to combat the efforts by terrorist groups here in the United States and abroad to recruit and radicalize American citizens and encourage them to carry out attacks.
“The best way to combat the threat of ISIS across the globe is to continue to degrade and destroy their forces overseas and show the world that they are not as powerful as they claim to be,” said Sen. Carper. “Our success will not only rob them of their safe haven in the Middle East, but also undercut their recruitment narrative that ‘ISIS is on the rise.’ While the international coalition in the fight against ISIS continues to make progress dismantling and degrading the terrorist group, we must also focus on defeating the threat ISIS and other terrorist groups pose here at home. As the recent tragedy in California underscores, one of the greatest threats we face is homegrown terrorism and self-radicalization. That’s why we must also work to destroy ISIS’s influence by countering their twisted message and inoculating against its efforts to radicalize our own people here in the United States. We must also strengthen our aviation security, enhance the capabilities of our first responders, and ensure that radiological material here at home does not end up in the hands of a terrorist. This bill will give the Administration the authorities and guidance they need to help destroy this threat and better secure our homeland.”
Sen. Carper’s provisions in S.2377 would:
- Establish the Office of Community Partnerships in DHS, a new office designed to reach out to select communities throughout the country and educate them about terrorist groups’ efforts to radicalize and recruit disenfranchised American youth.
- Strengthen the security at our airports by increasing the screening of airport employees to prevent against insider threats and empowering TSA’s special security teams to conduct increased surveillance throughout airports.
- Ensure radiological material here in the United States does not end up in the hands of a terrorist by calling for a government strategy for securing domestic radiological material, improving the vetting of individuals who are granted unsupervised access to this material, and increasing state and local law enforcement awareness of any security threats related to radiological material in their state or town.
- Support our first responders with better training and tools by ensuring that state and local law enforcement can use homeland security grants to help train for active shooter incidents and calling on the Department of Homeland Security to help communities better prepare for these types of emergencies.
Overall, S.2377 would:
Defeat ISIS Abroad
- Create a new ISIS “czar” who would lead and coordinate the United States’ military and diplomatic efforts to defeat ISIS.
- Cut off ISIS’ access to money by imposing tough new sanctions on financial institutions if they knowingly facilitate financial transactions with ISIS.
- Intensify airstrikes on ISIS strongholds and oil supplies.
- Increase support for local forces fighting ISIS on the ground.
- Create a new stabilization fund for Jordan and Lebanon to help those fleeing the conflict in Syria stay in the region, closer to their own homes.
- Confirm key national security positions necessary to fighting ISIS, such as Adam Szubin as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes at the Treasury Department.
- Improve intelligence sharing with our allies and partners.
- Improve migrant screening in Europe.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy to counter ISIS propaganda and counter violent-extremism.
Keep America Safe
- Strengthen the Visa Waiver Program by requiring the universal use of machine-readable, electronic passports in order to participate in the program.
- Close the terrorist gun loophole which would stop individuals who are known or suspected terrorists from purchasing a gun.
- Strengthen aviation security by improving screening technology and Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) training, including tougher vetting and oversight of aviation workers and secure areas within airports.
- Lock down “dirty bomb” materials by requiring the federal government to issue a strategy for locking down the highest risk radiological material in our hospitals and industrials sites.
- Authorize and supporting a new office at Department of Homeland Security dedicated to stopping homegrown extremism.
- Study ways in which U.S. law can improve our ability to intercept terrorist communications.
- Help state and local law enforcement train and properly respond to an active shooter attack by authorizing new grants to fund these types of training exercises.
The bill is also sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Was.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) , Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
The Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks serve as a sobering reminder of the need to be vigilant against all forms of extremist-inspired attacks, including homegrown terrorism and self-radicalization, in the United States. The rise of social media and online networking has helped to expand the reach of radical ideology, allowing it to increasingly gain audience with individuals susceptible to recruitment.
In addition to his provisions in S. 2377, Sen. Carper introduced the Community Partnership Act of 2015 (S. 2369), companion legislation that would authorize in law the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships. The new office is charged with directing the government’s countering violence extremism efforts and engaging local communities to help them understand and counteract radicalization and violent extremism, including the hateful propaganda of ISIS. Sen. Carper’s bill would ensure that the office has the appropriate authorities to effectively carry out its mission.
The Community Partnership Act of 2015(S. 2369) would:
- Authorize the Office of Community Partnerships to make it the focal point of all of DHS’s activities to counter violent extremism.
- Establish an Assistant Secretary for Community Partnerships who will directly report to the Secretary of Homeland Security on the Department’s progress toward ending the recruitment of Americans by terrorist groups.
- Charge the office with alerting communities to the dangers of violent terrorist groups like ISIS and their online recruitment and radicalization strategies.
- Create a grant program that will help empower community groups, local leaders, religious leaders and non-profits to engage in activity that will promote tolerance, counter the narratives proffered by terrorist groups like ISIS, and help to prevent at-risk youths in our communities from falling prey to the lure of ISIS and other terrorists group’s recruitment propaganda.