Payne, Jr. Amendments Included in Committee-Passed DHS Authorization Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several amendments offered by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) were included in legislation reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that won passage in the House Committee on Homeland Security today. The legislation (H.R. 2825, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2017) authorizes certain operations at DHS. The Payne, Jr. provisions will incorporate children’s needs into disaster preparedness planning, improve interoperable emergency communications, and improve vetting of certain DHS reorganization proposals. Congressman Payne Jr.’s amendment to increase authorized funding levels for the Urban Area Security Initiative and the State Homeland Security Grant Program was rejected on a party-line vote.
Congressman Payne, Jr. is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.
“This bill will enable DHS to effectively carry out activities that are critical to protecting our homeland and our citizens against foreign and domestic threats,” said Rep. Payne, Jr. “I fought for the inclusion of amendments of direct benefit to New Jersey and to the nation, from addressing the needs of children in disaster planning to improving emergency communications at the state and regional levels. Although I remain concerned about the authorization levels for important homeland security grant programs—including the Urban Area Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grant Program, the Port Security Grant Program, and the Transit Security Grant Program—I believe this bill will bolster DHS’s efforts to safeguard the American people.”
The following Payne, Jr. amendments were included in the DHS reauthorization bill that passed the Committee on Homeland Security today:
- Homeland security for children: This amendment, based on Rep. Payne, Jr.’s Homeland Security for Children Act (H.R. 1372), which passed the House in April, requires DHS to incorporate feedback from organizations representing children into Department-wide policies and activities. It also codifies the Children’s Technical Expert position at FEMA, whose responsibility it is to incorporate the needs of children into all emergency planning, response, mitigation, and recovery activities.
- Interoperability: This amendment ensures that when a state or high-risk urban area uses homeland security grant funds to purchase emergency communications equipment, those purchases are coordinated by state emergency communications governance structures.
- GAO Review of R&D and CBRNE Organizational Review: This amendment ensures that DHS engages in a more thorough vetting of any reorganization proposal related to research and development activities and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) activities by directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the plan DHS ultimately submits to Congress.
Congressman Payne, Jr. has been a leader in the House on homeland security issues. Earlier this year, in addition to passing his Homeland Security for Children Act, the House passed Rep. Payne, Jr.’s First Responder Access to Innovative Technologies Act, which would make it easier for first responders to acquire new equipment and technologies needed to respond to evolving threats. In 2015, his DHS Interoperable Communications Act, which ensures that DHS personnel can reliably communicate during emergencies, was signed into law by President Barack Obama.