The House on Tuesday passed H.R. 769, the Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act of 2019, which would establish a board at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate and integrate departmental intelligence, activities, and policy related to counterterrorism.

The Counterterrorism Advisory Board (CTAB) would include senior leaders from a variety of DHS component organizations including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Transportation Security Administration, Science and Technology Directorate, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

The bill, according to its sponsor Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., is intended to ensure that DHS “coordinates all of its counterterrorism efforts to limit duplication, inefficiency, and waste.” The bill, which passed on a vote of 414-12, was co-sponsored by Reps. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., Max Rose, D-N.Y., Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Van Taylor, R-Texas.

“As the United States continues to face threats from terrorist organizations and extremists, it is imperative our country is well-prepared to respond. This legislation will establish a coordinated strategy in order to stop attacks before they occur,” said Katko. “Americans deserve to feel secure at home and abroad. It is essential that government agencies are all on the same page when it comes to protecting Americans from terror threats.”

Aside from establishing a board at DHS, the legislation also:

  • “Updates the CTAB Charter to better enable it to confront tomorrow’s challenges and requires the Secretary [of Homeland Security] to appoint a Coordinator for Counterterrorism to oversee the board’s activities.
  • Requires the CTAB to advise the Secretary on the issuance of terrorism alerts, ensuring that top counterterrorism and intelligence officials play a key role in delivering these critical notices to the public.
  • Ensures continued Congressional oversight by requiring DHS to report on the status and activities of the CTAB so that we can be certain it is meeting its mandate.”

Katko noted that the bill cleared the House in two previous tries. However, the legislation doesn’t appear to have a companion bill in the Senate yet, so its fate remains to be seen.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.