Voted “Yes” on H.R. 361, H.R. 615, and H.R. 623

2/11/2015

Last Monday, I voted on three bills (H.R. 361, H.R. 615, and H.R. 623) that I believe will strengthen the ability of the Department of Homeland Security to respond to natural or manmade disasters. I voted yes on all three bills.

(1) Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act (H.R. 361): This bill would allow states and other organizations that receive DHS grants to use that money to purchase medical equipment for first-responders, improving their ability to care for victims during an emergency. Current law restricts the use of certain grants on medical preparedness equipment and this legislation would fix the problem.

(2) Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act (H.R. 615): Currently, agencies within DHS such as CBP and ICE cannot talk with one another over the radio because each agency uses different communications equipment. The need for this capability was highlighted in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy in 2005 and 2012 and the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013. H.R. 615 represents the first step in addressing this problem by requiring DHS to develop a strategy that will improve the Department’s ability to ensure all of its agencies and employees in the field can easily communicate with each other.

(3) Social Media Working Group Act (H.R. 623): Social media has become increasingly helpful in disseminating information to the public during emergencies. Unfortunately, DHS lacks a well-defined strategy to help incorporate the use of social media into their emergency response plans. H.R. 623 would establish an office within DHS to provide guidance and recommendations on how the Department may improve its use of social media.

All of the bills passed the House and it is my hope that the Senate will consider them shortly.

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