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Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

House approves bills to enhance preparedness, response capabilities to emerging terror threats

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In response to evolving terror threats, the U.S. House of Representatives approved bills on Tuesday to enhance federal efforts to protect against vehicular terrorism and to establish a federal laboratory to develop new technologies for use by law enforcers and first responders.

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced both bills, the Shielding Public Spaces from Vehicular Terrorism Act and the Development for First Responders Act. Donovan, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, said the bills reflect the changing landscape of global terrorism.

“Terrorists are evolving their methods and shifting their targets,” Donovan said. “Enhancing our preparedness efforts and giving our first responders the tools needed to protect our communities is more important than ever. In this time of increased threats, it is necessary to assess vulnerabilities, implement the most effective safeguards and support our people on the frontline. My bills that passed tonight support these very efforts, and I call on the Senate to swiftly take them up.”

Under the Shielding Public Spaces from Vehicular Terrorism Act, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to research and develop new tools to counter emerging terror threats like the vehicular attack in Manhattan last October. A Homeland Security Grant Program would also be established to mitigate vulnerabilities in public spaces.

The Supporting Research and Development for First Responders Act would authorize the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) in New York City. The national lab works to bolster prevention, preparedness, and response to terror attacks. Tools used by law enforcers and first responders, like radiological detection tools, are also tested there.