June 12, 2007 | WebMemo on Department of Homeland Security
Next to defense, arguably the most important congressional responsibility is ensuring that the federal government has the resources and guidance needed to fulfill its domestic security role. Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002; however, it has yet to pass a DHS authorization bill--an inexcusable shortfall.
To its credit, the House Committee on Homeland Security has drafted authorization legislation every year since DHS's inception, but the measure has never been taken up by the Senate. On May 9, the House passed the Department of Homeland Security Act Authorization Act for Fiscal 2008 (H.R. 1684); once again, the Senate has failed to act.
Congress must make it a priority to improve and pass DHS authorization legislation.The Good and the Bad
H.R.1684 includes many long-overdue initiatives that should be retained by the Senate:
The Senate should make the following changes to H.R. 1684:
The United States is waging a long battle against transnational terrorism. Congress must pay consistent and close attention to homeland security through the authorization process. Passing an annual authorization bill and further consolidating the jurisdiction over DHS would show that Congress takes its responsibilities seriously.
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Assistant Director for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Senior Research Fellow for Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.