House Passes Donovan Homeland Security Bills
Washington, DC—September 27, 2016….The U.S. House of Representatives passed two homeland security bills sponsored by Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11). The Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act and the Cyber Preparedness Act, which both passed with broad bipartisan support, bulk up the country’s transit and cybersecurity defenses. Both bills are in direct response to feedback Donovan received during subcommittee hearings he chaired to explore ways to defend transit and cyber infrastructure against terror attacks.
Congressman Donovan said, “Your government’s chief responsibility is to protect you and your family from attack. Last weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey, as well as attacks on mass transit systems in Europe and the Iranian hack of a U.S. dam, remind us that oceans no longer insulate us from threats. Congress must constantly reevaluate federal policies to allow agencies and law enforcement to most effectively secure the homeland. That’s what I’ve done with the bills passed today.”
The Cyber Preparedness Act streamlines the country’s cybersecurity procedures to improve cyber-threat information sharing and coordination between federal, state, and local authorities.
In testimony at a May cybersecurity hearing, Lt. Colonel Daniel J. Cooney, Assistant Deputy Superintendent for the New York State Police Office of Counterterrorism, suggested that federal cybersecurity intelligence is not shared with state and urban fusion centers – physical workplaces that bring together federal, state, and local agencies to share counterterrorism intelligence – as quickly as counterterror information is shared.
The Cyber Preparedness Act addresses this problem by allowing representatives from state and urban fusion centers to operate jointly out of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), enabling improved information sharing. The bill also clarifies that homeland security grants can be used to fund state and local cybersecurity initiatives.
The Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act improves the ability of transit agencies to prevent and respond to terror attacks by tweaking some grant program rules.
The TSGP provides eligible transit agencies with funding for capital and operational projects, including tunnel protection systems, evacuation improvements, canine patrols, security training and exercises, and public awareness campaigns.
Firstly, the bill expands the allowable uses for which transit agencies can use TSGP funds. The legislation would permit recipients to use grant funds for additional security training costs, allowing more transit agency employees to participate in security drills and exercises. Secondly, Donovan’s bill extends the timeframe in which grant recipients must spend their funds from two years to three. This change will allow transit agencies to use their grant funds in the most effective way possible without having to worry about unrealistic deadlines.
The bills will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Donovan chairs the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, which has jurisdiction over anti-terror and natural disaster policies. Donovan has already passed legislation to protect major cities from nuclear or radiological attack and to improve the natural disaster recovery process. Donovan took office after a special election in May 2015, but has passed more bills through the House than all but five members of the 66-person freshman class.