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House passes bills to bolster nuclear security, critical infrastructure

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed three bills Monday aimed at strengthening nuclear security and detection, protecting critical infrastructure against the threat of electromagnetic pulses, and authorizing the use of Department of Homeland Security grants to collaborate with national laboratories.

Specifically, the House passed H.R. 5629, the Strengthening Domestic Nuclear Security Act, to strengthen the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. The legislation, introduced by House Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), passed the House by a vote of 374-11.

"With the rise of terrorist threats across the globe and their increasing sophistication, the mission of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is vital in protecting the United States from a radiological or nuclear attack. This legislation strengthens the relationship with federal, state and local entities who are on the front lines of defense, providing them with the detection technology and resources needed," said Subcommittee Chairman Meehan.

The House also unanimously passed H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), to secure critical infrastructure against electromagnetic pulses.

"The Department of Homeland Security has the specific responsibility to secure the key resources and critical infrastructure in the United States, to include power production, generation, and distribution systems. The U.S. electric grid is fundamental to our continued way of life and practical steps must be taken to protect those critical elements that serve the United States from all threats," said Rep. Franks. "The negative impacts on U.S. financial, agricultural, medical, and other critical societal infrastructure are potentially catastrophic in a severe electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or severe space weather event.

"Passage of this legislation will help the United States prevent and prepare for such an event by including large-scale blackouts into existing national planning scenarios, including educational awareness for first responders to protect critical infrastructure. Most importantly, it requires specific plans for protecting and recovering the electric grid and other critical infrastructure from a dangerous EMP event.”

H.R. 3438, the National Laboratories Mean National Security Act, introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), also passed unanimously. It authorizes the use of grants under the Urban Area Security Initiative and the State Homeland Security Grant Program to work in conjunction with a Department of Energy national laboratory.


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