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House Passes Terrorism Response and Prevention Bill 

April 5, 2022 by Reece Nations
House Passes Terrorism Response and Prevention Bill 
A person passes a memorial near the location of a mass shooting in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 4, 2022. Multiple people were killed and injured in the shooting a day earlier. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the Reporting Efficiently to Proper Officials in Response to Terrorism Act on Tuesday, compelling federal agencies to submit unclassified reports to Congress upon completion of terrorism investigations.

Sponsored by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., the bill was first introduced and passed in the House in June 2017 before eventually expiring in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Aguilar introduced the bill following a targeted attack against the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health during a training event in 2015 in which 14 civilians were killed and 22 were wounded.

The legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI to report on investigations of terroristic acts to Congress. If enacted, the agencies will be obligated by law to submit a statement of the facts on the incident and issue recommendations to prevent future incidents of terrorism.

“The REPORT Act would ensure that lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are better prepared to detect, prepare [for] and respond to future incidents of terrorism,” Aguilar said in remarks from the House floor. “And if enacted, the secretary of Homeland Security in coordination with the attorney general and the FBI would submit this unclassified report to Congress whenever an act of domestic terrorism occurs in the United States.”

By requiring the executive branch to share its findings with Congress, Aguilar said members will be better suited to act on recommendations to protect their communities. Despite having no Republican co-sponsors in the House, Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, spoke in support of the legislation and urged the members to vote in favor of its passage in floor remarks.

Pfluger said transparency is a crucial aspect of members’ legislative duties to their constituencies, and that Aguilar’s bill offers a significant check on the executive branch regardless of which party controls the White House. Pfluger referenced the Jan. 15 hostage standoff at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in which four hostages were taken for approximately 11 hours before the armed captor was killed by federal agents.

“I think this bill really strikes at the heart of what the Constitution says,” Pfluger said. “We are a co-equal branch of government, and the check and the balance on the executive branch [and] the executive agencies is very important. We are elected and we have a responsibility to go to our districts and report back on incidents that are affecting our country negatively.”

The bill was passed without objection in the House by a voice vote. It will likely proceed to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for a hearing. 

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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