WASHINGTON — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard from three former homeland security secretaries at a field hearing at the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York Monday to discuss how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has evolved to address an ever-changing threat landscape since 9/11, how it can adapt to new and emerging threats, and what role Congress plays in addressing the dynamic nature of identified threats.
“After 18 years it’s necessary to ask some hard questions based on experience,” noted Senator Johnson in his opening statement. “For example, is DHS too big? Does it have too many missions? Can we expect one department to be responsible for natural disasters, preventing domestic terror attacks, cyber security, protecting critical infrastructure, enforcing immigration laws, securing our borders, investigating counterfeit currency, protecting government officials? Not only does the list go on, but in addition to its operational responsibilities, DHS also reports to 92 congressional committees and subcommittees of jurisdiction, plus another 27 caucuses, commissions and groups. The complex set of problems our nation faces will not be solved with heated rhetoric in the midst of political squabbling. It will require individuals working together in good faith as members of this committee have done so often in the past. That’s why I am grateful that a bipartisan group of senators has an opportunity to be here today to learn from a bipartisan group of former secretaries. I hope that through this work we can fairly evaluate past successes and failures and use these assessments to guide future actions and policies designed to secure our homeland.”
Video of the hearing is available here.