Thompson introduces bill to overhaul Dept. of Homeland Security

Friday, Congressman Bennie Thomspon introduced legislation seeking to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security. 

As the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Thompson, and other committee Democrats, introduced the bill that they say “will reform DHS to bolster accountability and transparency to the American people and ensure that it is able to address its wide range of missions.” 

Outlining the bill’s objectives, a statement from the committee accused President Donald Trump of using DHS as a “political weapon.”

“From his cruel immigration and border agenda to his effort to escalate tensions around lawful protests for his political gain, the public’s trust in DHS has eroded. Further, the Trump Administration has been unwilling to properly fill the leadership ranks across DHS, leading to operational damage and low workforce morale.”

The DHS Reform Act of 2020, will improve DHS operations and address the Trump Administration’s mismanagement, waste, and abuse of the Department by requiring a range of reforms that:

  • Promote continuity in leadership by restricting the use of ‘acting’ officials.
  • Create a new Associate Secretary responsible for overseeing DHS’s law enforcement missions.
  • Strengthen civil rights and civil liberties protections in DHS policies, programs, and activities.
  • Require DHS’s use-of-force policy be updated to emphasize de-escalation.
  • Require greater accountability and transparency when DHS deploys officers to our cities and towns.
  • Ensure the public receives factual and non-biased information from DHS.
  • Authorize a range of programs to improve workforce morale within DHS.
  • Grant rights to Transportation Security Officers under the Title 5 personnel system, as with other Federal employees.

“Over the past four years, DHS has been the face of President Trump’s most extreme and politicized policies, from family separation to the arrests of Americans lawfully protesting. This has damaged the Department’s ability to address its national security mission while also eroding workforce morale and the public’s trust in it. To bring DHS back to normalcy, and to help inoculate the Department from future misuse, we are introducing this legislation today with clear and commonsense reform measures. For DHS to effectively secure the nation from the diverse threats that it faces, Americans must have confidence that the Department is operating in accordance with the law and respects constitutional protections,” the committee’s statement reads. 

The DHS Reform Act of 2020 is co-sponsored by Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, James Langevin, Donald Payne Jr., Kathleen Rice, Lou Correa, Lauren Underwood, Emanuel Cleaver, Al Green, Yvette Clarke, Dina Titus, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Val Demings.