The new Congress taking office next January should initiate a regular, two-year cycle for writing comprehensive Homeland Security Department authorization bills rather than continue to approve antiterrorism legislation on a piecemeal basis, a pair of Heritage Foundation scholars recommend in a new report today.
The current Congress addressed security at U.S. borders, ports and chemical plants and reorganized the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But a biennial authorization bill would allow for sharper oversight and a more comprehensive approach, wrote Mackenzie Eaglen, senior policy analyst, and research assistant Laura Keith.
“A biennial bill would allow the authorization committees to exercise much-needed oversight of the DHS, to address the many homeland security issues that have not been covered in individual pieces of legislation, and to avoid reactive stand-alone legislation inevitably proposed in response to the latest threat and directed at ever-changing security concerns,” the report states.
The authors acknowledged, however, that structural roadblocks exist within Congress, which have stymied comprehensive authorization bills to date. In the House, authorizing jurisdiction is primarily under the Homeland Security Committee, but also is shared by the departments of Judiciary, Transportation and Energy.