Three amendments, authored by U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), were included in the recently-passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Authorization Act of 2017 by the U.S. House of Representatives, each of which addresses a specific challenge in disaster response, oversight and organization.
“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,” Payne, Jr. said. “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.”
One amendment was based on Payne Jr.’s Homeland Security for Children Act, which passed the House in April. Specifically, the amendment calls for DHS to incorporate feedback from organizations that represent children into department-wide policies and activities.
Additionally, it codifies the Children’s Technical Expert at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who would incorporate the needs of children into future emergency planning and response activities.
The second amendment ensures that when a high-risk urban area or state uses grant funds for homeland security to purchase emergency communications equipment that each purchase is coordinated by a state emergency communications governance structure.
The final amendment would ensure that DHS conducts more-thorough vetting of any reorganization proposal related to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) research and development by requiring the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review the plan DHS submits to congress.
The DHS Authorization Act now awaits consideration in the Senate.