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HOMELAND SECURITY & TERRORISM

As New Yorkers, we understand first-hand the need to protect our country from terrorist attacks.  In Congress I have pushed for reforms that will increase support for security programs in high-risk areas like New York while providing better emergency communications.

USA PATRIOT Act

We must balance the need for security with our obligations under the Constitution.  Both are important aspects of our society. Since its passage in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I have expressed my reservations about the USA PATRIOT Act for precisely this reason. I understand that our intelligence agencies must have the tools they need to monitor and thwart terror threats, but I have maintained that bulk data collection and the tracking of every phone call and internet click is inappropriate. That is why I supported the USA FREEDOM Act, which ended bulk data collection permanently. I still have reservations about other PATRIOT Act programs, but I felt the FREEDOM Act was an important step forward, and it maintained and improved many of the other important tools that the intelligence community uses to monitor threats.

Zadroga Act

I worked tirelessly to help reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act was long overdue, and I am thankful we have finally committed to providing long-term health care to the thousands who risked their lives on 9/11. These men and women have sacrificed their health and their well-being in service to this country, and in turn they deserve all the support we as a grateful nation can provide.

Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)

I am also fighting to guarantee funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative and its Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). NSGP provides vital funds to secure nonprofit organizations against terrorist and other high-risk areas like our district. I have been a long-time supporter of full NSGP funding, and I have joined in letters urging Congressional leadership to guarantee full funding for the program.

Terror Watch List Gun Loophole

I was a strong supporter of the bipartisan Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, which would have prevented people on the FBI's terrorist watch list from passing federal gun background checks. Many people do not realize just how easy it is for a suspected terrorist to walk into a gun store and purchase an assault rifle. A person on the terror watch list would pass any gun background check and be able to leave a gun store with an AR-15 that same day under current law. This must stop.

Border Security

U.S. immigration policy faces significant challenges these days, from international terrorism on the one hand to vulnerable refugees fleeing those terrorists on the other. The unauthorized entry of illegal immigrants is a major challenge facing Congress in the coming years. That is why I have strongly supported increases in the budget of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to respond to illegal immigration and ensure that our borders are secure.

I believe that responsible action on the border would do three things - secure the border, reform the legal immigration processes, and provide a way for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here to attain citizenship after answering for their illegal entry. The Senate passed such a bill just last Congress - a measure I supported - but I was tremendously disappointed when Republicans in the House torpedoed it before it could reach the President's desk. It is my hope that Congress can begin to move forward on this issue again in the coming Congress.

Cybersecurity

I am deeply troubled by the effectiveness of recent cyberattacks, whether on large private companies like Sony or Target, or against government agencies like the Office of Personnel Management or the IRS. I consider these attacks and others to be a serious national security matter, and I believe that it is past time for the United States to examine these challenges more closely and determine the most effective way to respond.

In the wake of reports of an Iranian cyberattack on a dam in Westchester, I have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with help from the Department of Homeland Security, to pay particular attention to the question of cybersecurity before issuing an order on rehearing regarding the construction of the proposed Algonquin AIM pipeline. We must do more to address cyber threats, and so I believe cybersecurity should remain on our minds whenever we make important decisions on infrastructure matters going forward.