Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005)
Dear Members of the United States House of Representatives:
I am writing on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses of every size, sector and region of the country, to express our support for H.R. 5005, the "Homeland Security Act of 2002."
The most important function of the federal government is to protect and defend the American people and our way of life. With the ongoing threat from terrorist activity, we live in a changed world and this legislation recognizes the need to realign government functions under a single department to meet this new reality. In consolidating the function of over 80 different offices into one cabinet agency, it will support the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security, and it will facilitate the ability of the private sector to more effectively communicate, collaborate, and coordinate threat and vulnerability management, response, and recovery management with the federal government. We are also pleased that the legislation, and the President, recognize the importance, in pursing greater security, of protecting the efficient flow of legitimate commerce of our nation, including immigration, transportation, trade and infrastructure.
In this regard, we are particularly supportive of provisions in the legislation which:
- Establish a specific mechanism within the Office of the Secretary to provide for analysis and advice from the private sector and examination of the impact of the new agency's policies and regulations on the private sector;
- Recognize that economic security is a vital part of overall security;
- Protect sensitive information sharing between the public and private sectors;
- Upgrade the nation's threat and vulnerability analysis capabilities;
- Establish an oversight board to review Transportation Security Administration (TSA) emergency rulemakings;
- Promote the flexibility of procurement and R&D functions to facilitate the ability of the government to acquire or support research into new technologies;
- Enable companies to provide needed security services without fear of excessive litigation; and
- Streamline the ability of the private sector to identify and work with the appropriate government officials to address security needs and issues.
While we support the legislation, we are also mindful that many policy questions have been left to the new agency and that the implementation of the legislation will in turn raise important issues to be debated and resolved. The Chamber is, therefore, committed to working with the Congress and the Administration over the years to come as the agency undertakes and fulfills it mission to protect the inhabitants of this country and its many businesses.
Because of the importance of this issue, the Chamber will consider votes related to this legislation in our annual "How they Voted" rankings.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce