It is important that we sufficiently protect our citizens within our borders and keep out those that would do us harm. Homeland Security is not just protecting our borders and screening the cargo that comes through our ports. It also includes providing adequate training and equipment for our first responders – police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. These courageous people work on the front lines, often entering into dangerous and uncertain situations. I am working hard to provide additional funds for our first responders. I also believe those serving in our military should consider a career as a first responder after they finish their military service. To encourage more veterans to consider a career as a first-responder, I am working toward creating a smooth transition process for them.
I strongly oppose President Trump’s executive order indefinitely banning Syrian refugees from entering the United States and temporarily halting all immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen executive order and originally spoke out against it on the House Floor on January 30, 2017. It is unconstitutional and immoral. We do not - and should not - have religious tests in this country. While the executive order does not ban all Muslim-majority countries, all countries included have a Muslim majority. This hasty and unsound executive order makes the United States less safe. It will provide ISIS with additional propaganda against the United States. The order also singles out a small number of countries, but ignores others like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt from which individuals have been linked to actual terror attacks inside the United States.
This is why I am a proud cosponsor of the Statue of Liberty Values (SOLVE) Act, which would prevent the Administration from denying entry to immigrants and refugees based on race, religion, or nationality. This legislation does not weaken the existing vetting process. Everyone agrees that we should screen refugees to ensure that no one intent on doing harm is allowed into our country. That’s why it currently takes up to two years for applicants to be fully screened, and I support this screening process.
On February 7, 2017, I signed on a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General and Acting Officer for Civil Rights requesting an investigation into the Muslim Ban executive order.
I voted against the against the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R.3219) which includes $1.6 billion for construction of President Trump’s border wall, breaking the President’s promise to the American people that Mexico, and not taxpayers, would pay for it. The House of Representatives passed the bill on July 27, 2017 by a vote of 235-192.
I am also a cosponsor of the Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act (H.R. 1907) which directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate voting systems as critical infrastructure which would mean that election infrastructure becomes a priority within the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and prioritize cybersecurity assistance to state and local election officials, but only for those who request it. The bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct research to mitigate the consequences of threats to voting systems. The bill requires that the voting systems used in elections for Federal office to comply with national standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for operational security and ballot verification.
I believe that the Department of Homeland Security is a critical agency that employs more than 240,000 hardworking Americans and is responsible for ensuring our domestic security against terrorist threats, managing incoming and outgoing traffic at our ports and borders, and providing communities with relief following natural disasters among other critical functions. This is why I cosponsored the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R.861). This bill provides FY2015 appropriations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This bill that passed Congress as H.R. 240 and became law on March 4, 2017, averted a Department of Homeland Security shutdown.
In 2013, I spearheaded a letter to the Appropriations Committee in support of $210.1 million for the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire an additional 2,000 Customs agents in the Fiscal Year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. Customs agents are an integral component of the United States Foreign-Trade Zones Program, which helps lower the cost of US operations engaged in international trade, thereby promoting and expanding U.S. commerce and American jobs. Congress approved a budget to support the hiring increase. In 2014, I again urged the Appropriations Committee to continue its support of funding for CBP in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.
In the 110th and 111th Congresses, I cosponsored the Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Enhancement Act. This legislation sought to improve financial assistance to states in the aftermath of a disaster or to states implementing pre-disaster natural hazard mitigation programs. This includes assistance for weather related natural disasters such as flooding or earthquakes.
War on Terror / Protecting the Home Front
Ensuring the safety of America and our allies is a matter that I take very seriously. This includes preventing weapons and military technology from falling into the hands of international terrorist organizations and governments that support these organizations. It is imperative that any arms sales meet strict criteria that would prevent weapons from falling into the hands of those who would use them against us, our allies or for terrorism purposes anywhere in the world. I believe that extreme ideologies of all kinds are a serious concern to the safety of our nation and its citizens.
This is why I am a proud cosponsor of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 (H.R. 1076). This bipartisan bill prohibits suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns or explosives.
I am also cosponsor of the Terrorism Prevention and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2015 (H.R.85). This bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to work with critical infrastructure owners and operators to take proactive steps to manage risk and strengthen the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks.
More on Homeland Security
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) condemned the disgraceful and embarrassing comments by President Trump after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Trump’s remarks accepting the Russian’s denial of election meddling is an attack on American democracy.
Congressman Cohen made the following statement:
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) urged Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to honor today’s request from several airlines not to use their services to transport immigrant children separated from their parents as a result of the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. He made the following statement:
“The desire by American Airlines and other airlines to avoid being parties to a Trump Administration policy decision separating children from their parents on the border is an example of good corporate citizenship.
WASHINGTON – President Trump finally made a call to James Shaw Jr., the hero who disarmed the April 22 Nashville Waffle House shooter, on Monday, a day after Steve Cohen (TN-09) chided Trump for not having done so in an MSNBC interview Sunday. The Congressman made the following statement:
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) went to the House floor this afternoon to commend recent acts of heroism by Southwest Airlines Pilot Tammie Jo Shults and Waffle House patron James Shaw Jr. whose courageous acts saved lives. See his remarks here.
“Malevolent actions and accidents give an opportunity for people to rise to heroic actions,” Congressman Cohen said. “America is a country familiar with heroes.”
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) has signed on to an effort to require the President to act on a law enacted last August to impose sanctions against high-level Russian officials for their roles in malicious cyber attacks on American democracy.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) reacted to today’s Grand Jury indictments against 13 Russian nationals by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of pro-Trump Russian influence in the 2016 campaign, and made the following statement:
“The Russians’ use of false U.S. personas and social media designed to attract U.S. audiences with divisive political and social issues was clearly intended to sway American voters, and succeeded. Russian manipulation influenced the psychology of American voters.
WASHINGTON – Before leaving Washington for Memphis, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) reviewed the controversial Republican House Intelligence Committee memo ascribed to California Rep. Devin Nunes, as well as the Committee Democrats’ response memo, and released the following statement:
“Because material in the Intelligence Committee memos remains classified, I can’t say very much about them, but I can compare them in terms of persuasiveness, and by that measure, the Nunes memo is a dismal failure.
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today released the following statement on the recent natural disasters in the United States, including Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey and wildfires in the West:
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today released the following statement on the 16th anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: