CRAMER: Homeland Security Bills Strengthen Federal Response to Terrorist Threats
Audio on opposing H.R. 5606 here
Audio on Supporting other bills here
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported several bills passed by the House of Representatives this week that strengthen the federal response to terrorist threats.
“The fight to protect our nation from terrorist threats is ongoing and must be engaged through every channel possible,” said Cramer. “These bills strike the balance of guarding privacy while strengthening financial transparency, information sharing and homeland security measures to better recognize suspicious and illegal activities.”
One bill, H.R. 5606, the Anti-Terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Act, Cramer did not support and it failed to pass. It would have enhanced safe harbor provisions for information sharing among financial institutions and government agencies and broadened the range of suspected illegal activities. It would have ensured that financial institutions can file suspicious activity reports without fear of civil litigation and facilitates the flow of critically important suspicious activity reporting.
“While this bill would have given the government more power to crack down on terrorist activities linked to financial institutions, I am concerned it could bypass due process and need more information to be comfortable supporting it,” Cramer said.
The bills the House passed and Cramer supported, are as follows:
H.R. 5469 – gives the International Monetary Fund (IMF) greater authority in combating terrorist-related money laundering. This bill allows the IMF to seek remedies to vulnerabilities terrorists have taken advantage of in financial systems that allow for an inappropriate level of anonymity and non-transparency in the execution of financial transactions.
H.R. 5594, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act – requires the Treasury Secretary to develop and publish an annual government strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. This bill aims to improve federal information-sharing and inter-agency communications.
H.R. 5607, the Enhancing Treasury’s Anti-Terror Tools Act – improves the tools the Treasury Department uses in its efforts to combat the financing of terrorism, money laundering and related illicit finance. It specifically requires the Treasury Department to investigate ways to incorporate U.S. embassies into counter-terrorism financing efforts, assess ways to improve anti-terror finance monitoring of cross-border fund transfers, and implement a program to enhance intergovernmental efforts to combat terrorist financing. The bill also adds the Secretary of the Treasury to the National Security Council.
H.R. 5602 – authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to includes all funds when issuing certain geographic targeting orders (GTO), including those involved in an electronic fund transfer. GTOs impose additional, but time-limited, record-keeping and reporting requirements on domestic financial institutions or non-financial businesses in a particular geographic area to assist regulators and law enforcement agencies identify criminal activity. Current law allows the Secretary of the Treasury to seek a more-detailed reporting of coins, currency or monetary instruments. However, in some cases, it does not allow for requiring or compelling reporting of information on some non-cash transactions.
H.R. 4785, the DHS Stop Asset and Vehicle Excess Act – improves the management of the Department of Homeland Security vehicle fleet and helps better monitor vehicle inventory and employee use.
H.R. 5385 – revises the requirements of the quadrennial Homeland Security review to improve its quality and timeliness. It requires the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment and more robust stakeholder engagement.
H.R. 5056, the Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2015 – requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to update certain risk assessments related to security at airports, specifically along airport perimeters and points of access to secure areas. It requires TSA to report these assessments to Congress and update its strategic plan related to security measures at airports.
H.R. 4404, the Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act of 2016 – requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and conduct an exercise to evaluate the nation’s preparedness against the threat of foreign fighters and terrorists. The agency will submit a report to Congress about the outcome of this exercise.