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H.R. 2825: DHS Authorization Act of 2017

Jul 20, 2017 at 11:33 a.m. ET. On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 2825 (115th) in the House. The federal budget process occurs in two stages: appropriations and authorizations. This is an authorization bill, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used. (It does not set overall spending limits, however, which are the subject of appropriations bills.) Authorizations are typically made for single fiscal years (October 1 through September 30 of the next year) but are often renewed in subsequent law. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

H.R. 2825 authorizes the activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and provides necessary oversight and guidance to the Department to ensure that it is effectively carrying out the mission of securing the homeland. A full section-by-section of the legislation can be found here and executive summary can be found here.  Major provisions include the following:

Title I – Department of Homeland Security Headquarters

Title I identifies the offices that constitute DHS’s headquarters and outlines key functions which include establishing an overall strategy to successfully further the mission of the Department, establishing incentives that improve Department-wide operational performance, managing and encouraging shared services across Department components, and establishing and implementing policies that preserve individual liberty, fairness, and equality.

Further, the title lays out the responsibilities for the Chief Privacy Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Procurement Officer, the Chief Security Officer, and the Chief Human Capital Officer. In addition, the title consolidates additional offices under the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans.

Finally, the title provides guidance to a number of activities in the Headquarters, including:

  • Requiring collaboration with the Homeland Advisory Committee on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review
  • Enhancing the Department’s Homeland Security Rotation program, including the establishment of the “Intelligence Rotational Assignment Program”
  • Promoting the domestic sharing of counterterrorism information
  • Requiring the Department to submit a Future Years Homeland Security Program that provides detailed projected cost estimates of anticipated programs over 5 years
  • Reporting to Congress on cost saving and efficiency activities, including consolidation of facilities and response to operational surges
  • Establishing an employee engagement steering committee and an annual employee award program to improve morale

Title II – Department of Homeland Security Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency

Title II implements efficiencies across components to better ensure proper oversight and accountability when it comes to acquisitions. Specifically, the title codifies the Under Secretary for Management (USM) as the Chief Acquisitions Officer for the Department with the authority to approve, pause, modify, or cancel major acquisition programs.  Each major acquisition must have a Department-approved program baseline and is meeting cost, schedule, and performance requirements. The title also delineates the acquisition authorities for the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Information Officer, and the Program Accountability and Risk Management office. 

Further, the title allows the USM to designate an individual to manage acquisition innovation efforts as well as obtain feedback from the private sector on acquisition innovation efforts. The title codifies the Acquisition Review Board and requires DHS to establish policies to reduce unnecessary duplication for investments, including major acquisition programs. The Department is required to report on any breaches as well as remediation plans for major acquisition programs, including notification to Congress of any acquisition than exceeds 15% of the program’s baseline.

Finally, the title requires a multiyear acquisition strategy annually submitted to Congress that guides the direction of DHS’s acquisitions. The strategy shall include a prioritized list of investments, a plan to leverage emerging technologies and research and development trends, a focus on incentives for program managers to achieve cost savings, an assessment of ways to address delays and bid protects, a plan to ensure competition for major acquisition programs, and a plan to address DHS acquisition workforce accountability.

Title III – Intelligence and Information Sharing

Title III addresses the intelligence and information sharing responsibilities of the Department. Specifically, the title directs the Department to develop Department-wide guidance regarding the processing, analysis, production, and dissemination of homeland security information and terrorism information.  The title requires the Chief Intelligence Officer to have an experienced and qualified staff and requires the department to take a long-term analytical view utilizing Departmental information to identify emerging and persistent threats to the homeland.

Further, the title authorizes the DHS Data Framework, an ongoing initiative to connect data sets collected by component agencies to improve vetting capability of law enforcement agencies and establishes an internal Steering Committee to manage and coordinate DHS activities related to insider threat issues.

The title authorizes the DHS Counterterrorism Advisory Board, an internal body charged with advising the Secretary of Homeland Security on counterterrorism issues. In addition, it directs threat assessments to be conducted on terrorist use of virtual currency and threats from gangs along transnational borders.

Finally, the title makes improvements to the National Network of Fusion Centers and their information-sharing capabilities by requiring the Secretary to coordinate with the heads of other federal agencies, support the maturation and sustainment of fusion centers, reduce inefficiencies of resources dedicated to fusion centers, ensure centers remain a priority within grant guidance, coordinate nationwide suspicious activity reports, and disseminate best practices for staffing.  The Government Accountability Office is directed to conduct an assessment of Departmental personnel detailed to fusion centers, the Secretary is directed to provide centers with information on individuals incarcerated for terror-related offenses, and the Office of State and Local Law Enforcement is directed to maintain an annual catalog on DHS training, publications, programs, and services for state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Title IV – Maritime Security

This title looks to enhance maritime security by requiring the Secretary to submit a strategic plan every 3 years to address international supply chain security, provide the Coast Guard (USCG) with the responsibility of cybersecurity at ports and share information related to risks and incidents through the National Maritime Advisory Committee, and require USCG inspections of ports at least once a year, with the authority to conduct additional inspections in a risk-based manner.

Further, the title directs the Secretary to update the Maritime Operations Coordination Plan to decrease duplicative operations with the USCG and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (CBP AMO) and issue a report assessing the Coast Guard’s homeland security-related Deployable Specialized Forces.

Finally, the title directs DHS to examine potential cost-savings through co-location, provides the Department with flexibility by repealing the mandate for brick and mortar operations centers, and reports on the maritime assets and personnel the Department would need to increase interdiction rate of illicit activity in the Transit Zone.

Title V – Transportation Security Administration

Title V addresses the aviation, surface, and pipeline security responsibilities of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Specifically, the title re-establishes the position and title of the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and ensures that the Secretary and the Administrator are referenced in appropriate places in statute.

The title requires the Administrator to conduct a comprehensive, agency-wide efficiency review to identify and effectuate spending reductions and savings by streamlining and restructuring TSA. This includes reviewing and eliminating unnecessary rules, regulations, directives, and procedures and an overview of operating expenses. The Secretary is required to develop a strategic plan to reduce the number of Senior Executive Service positions at TSA by 20% by 2019. 

Subtitle B address passenger security and screening by requiring trusted traveler program collaboration, a pilot project on an automated and biometric trusted traveler system verification process, and a way to verify the identity and documents of travelers not a part of a trusted traveler program. Further, the subtitle requires TSA to utilize at least 300 canine explosive detection canine teams dedicated to passenger screening by 2018 and develop standard operating procedures at airport checkpoints for passengers and carry-on baggage.  The legislation directs the Administrator to ensure availability of a Traveler Redress Inquiry Program to adjudicate inquiries of U.S. citizens who received enhanced screening at a security checkpoint and believe they have wrongly been identified as a threat to homeland security.

The Administrator is directed to develop a standard working document between the Federal Air Marshal Service and foreign governments concerning flights to and from the United States. The Secretary is prohibited from incorporating an increase in the passenger security fee in an annual budget proposal to Congress unless an increase to the fee has been authorized by Congress.

The subtitle also directs the Secretary and Administrator to review security incident response plans for airports and surface transportation hubs. In addition, the Administrator is required to make best efforts to enter into a contract with a private screening company to provide screening services at an airport not later than 180 days after the date of approval of an application submitted by an operator of an airport.

Subtitle C addresses screening personnel training and accountability by authorizing new personnel at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and direct the Administrator to conduct a cost and feasibility study of developing a training program similar to FLETC training within 50 miles of a duty station.

Subtitle D addresses airport access controls and perimeter security by requiring a study on entry and exit points to secure and sterile areas, including the appropriate use of advanced technologies, and authorizing funds for exit lane security. Subtitle E addresses air cargo security by administering a long-piloted Air Cargo Advanced Screening program and utilizing explosives detection canine teas for air cargo security. Subtitle F addresses information sharing and cybersecurity by requiring security directors at airports to meet with stakeholders to discuss information sharing and incident management.

Subtitle G addresses surface transportation security by requiring the Administrator to conduct a risk-based assessment for surface transportation using current threat intelligence. In addition, the subtitle establishes a Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee and calls for 70 additional canine teams for surface transportation security purposes. The Secretary is directed to research next generation technology to detect explosives and establish a program to address the security awareness of surface transportation operators and frontline employees.

Finally, subtitle H addresses security enhancements in public areas of transportation facilities by establishing a working group to promote collaboration on enhancing public area security, and informing stakeholders of the availability of Departmental assistance.

Title VI – Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications

This title provides resources to first responders and communities to counter evolving threats, enhance communications, and provide for medical preparedness. The title authorizes the appropriation of $800 million for each fiscal year from 2018 through 2022 for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which is $195 million above the current levels, and authorizes $600 million for each fiscal year from 2018 through 2022 for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP). The title preserves the 25% set aside for law enforcement terrorism prevention activities required under UASI and SHSGP. In addition, it allows grant funds to be used within 36 months of receipt, rather than the current period of 24 months, and adds “enhance medical preparedness” and “enhance cybersecurity” to the list of allowable uses.

When making grant awards, the title directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to incorporate population data into the risk formula. FEMA is required to share information of methods to address areas identified for improvement in grant audits, and prohibits the Secretary from implementing the National Preparedness Grant Program or any successor program to consolidate grant programs unless the Secretary receives prior authorizations from Congress.

For fiscal years 2018 through 2022, the title authorizes $200 million for the Transit Security Grant Program, $200 million for the Port Security Grant Program, $110 million for Operation Stonegarden, and $50 million for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program.

Further, the title details the responsibilities and activities of the Office of Emergency Communications and requires a plan to be submitted once every 5 years. In addition, the Under Secretary of the Department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate is required to submit information relating to the development of a Public Safety Broadband Network.

Finally, the title enhances medical preparedness by codifying the current responsibilities of the Chief Medical Officer and authorizes the Department’s medical countermeasures program.

Title VII – Other Matters

This title includes miscellaneous provisions relating to the Department. Specifically, the title directs the Secretary to review existing DHS memoranda to determine if it should still remain in effect or be modified.  In addition, the title provides for a permanent authorization of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card Program.

The title authorizes $175 million for the Office of Inspect General for each fiscal year from 2018 to 2019 and authorizes the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to request additional canine teams to assist in the drug detection mission at the border.

Finally, the title strikes section 872 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, removing the Secretary’s authority to reorganize the Department without specific congressional authorization.

Division B – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

This division establishes the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements within the Department.

Division C – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

This division establishes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department.

Division D – United States Secret Service

This division reauthorizes the U.S. Secret Service. Specifically, the division requires the Director of the Secret Service to be Senate confirmed. In addition, the Service is permitted to investigate threats against former Vice Presidents.

The division directs the Secret Service to increase the number of hours spent training as well as provide joint training between uniformed division officers and special agents. The division also authorizes the construction of training facilities at the Rowley Training Center.

Additional provisions include: an evaluation of the use of technology to protect the White House; an evaluation of additional weaponry, including non-lethal weapons; eliminating the $200,000 cap on spending to secure a protectee’s secondary residence; establishing an ethics program office; and allowing agents to protect presidential candidates at polling places.

Division E – Coast Guard

This division authorizes funding for FY 2018 and FY 2019 and implements reforms for the U.S. Coast Guard. Specifically, this division allows the President to lower the retirement requirement of commissioned officers from 10 years to 8 years, adjusts the number of officers in a promotion zone pool to account for current levels of attrition, and requires the Secretary of the Department in which the USCG is operating to establish land-based unmanned aircraft system programs that would be under the control of the Commandant.

Further the text requires the USCG to appoint a Congressional Affairs Director and requires the Commandant to provide a new method of tracking operational employment of Coast Guard cutters before an eighth National Security Cutter is certified.

The bill authorizes $3 million for ice trials of icebreaker vessels and authorizes $165 million per year for unmet shore-side infrastructure needs. An authorization of $3.5 million per year is provided for development and improvement for the Coast Guard’s MH-65 aircraft. The Commandant is required to submit of plan to either replace or extend the lifespan of the USCG’s fleet of inland waterway vessels and Bay-class icebreakers.

The division also addresses ports and waterways safety as well as maritime transportation security through conforming amendments, addressing logbook entries, undocumented barges, and recreational vehicles, and developing and maintaining a backup global positioning system.

Division F – Federal Emergency Management Agency

This division authorizes FEMA through 2020 at the following levels: $1.05 billion in FY 2018, $1.07 billion for FY 2019, and $1.08 billion for FY 2020.

Within these funds, the Center for Domestic Preparedness is authorized at the following levels: $63.9 million in FY 2018, $65 million in FY 2019, and $66 million in FY 2020. Further, the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium is authorized at the following levels: $101 million in FY 2018, 102.6 million in FY 2019, and $104.2 million in FY 2020.

This division makes additional reforms by: codifying the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; requiring the Administrator to update the National Response Framework and the National Incident Management System; and requiring the Administrator to utilize the Remedial Action Management Program.

Further, the division directs FEMA to report on its updates and modernization efforts regarding grant and financial information systems and develop and submit a strategic human capital plan. Finally, the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination within FEMA is responsible for coordinating matters related to individuals with disabilities before, during, and after events.


In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President Bush and Congress examined ways to improve national security. This led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296). Since this original authorization more than 15 years ago, DHS has never been fully reauthorized. The Department has received guidance through annual appropriations legislation and smaller authorization bills of agencies, activities, and programs, but has not received the thorough guidance that comes from a comprehensive authorization of its activities.

Source: Republican Policy Committee


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