WASHINGTON – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member, today released the following statement on the future of the homeland security mission and his priorities for the committee:
“America is an exceptional nation and the leader of the free world. The transfer of power from one administration to the next – regardless of political affiliation – is testament to this. I congratulate soon-to-be President Biden and Vice President Harris on assuming their offices.
“Now, even in these times of uncertainty, we should not and will not apologize for America’s greatness.
“This also demands that we cannot, and will not, be complacent in our security. The reality is that our homeland security, national security, economic security, and way of life are threatened in unprecedented ways by a range of highly sophisticated adversaries. Simply being vigilant is no longer enough. Today’s threat environment demands a posture of persistent resilience.
“We’ve seen this firsthand over the last month. First, revelations of a cyber campaign, now attributed to Russia, that compromised government and industry networks alike at never before seen scale. And more recently, an attempted insurrection on the heart of our democracy by domestic violent extremists intent on preventing the certification of the Electoral College.
“Later this year we will observe the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In addition to being a somber reminder of the fragility of our security, we must also use this date as a reminder that we cannot ever again allow a failure of imagination to compromise our defense of the homeland. An inability to connect the dots to effectively secure our nation against the threats of tomorrow is simply unacceptable. The events of the last month only further punctuate this reality.
“I am honored to lead House Homeland Security Republicans – building off a career working to protect our nation and holding responsible those who seek to disrupt it. I also look forward to being joined on the committee by a talented and diverse group of members – who will bring unique perspectives and experiences to advance our mission.
“Securing the homeland is an American imperative. I hope and expect productive partnership, where possible, with congressional Democrats and homeland security officials in the Biden Administration. But where there is disagreement, House Homeland Republicans will be respectful, but forceful, in articulating our vision and our solutions. The stakes are simply too high for any other approach.
“I plan to hit the ground running. As a committee, we must:
“Proactively and aggressively combat authoritarian nation states – China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and beyond – that seek to strategically undermine our way of life. Pacification and appeasement are not acceptable options.
“The Committee will rightfully recognize cybersecurity as the pre-eminent national security threat of our time. We will use the common interest in responding to the cyber campaign against SolarWinds and other entities to drive necessary operational and policy improvements in the cybersecurity arena. This will require ongoing partnership with the private sector and state and local governments to continue progress hardening our infrastructure – to include election infrastructure.
“We will also not back down from the fact that we are a nation of laws. Unwinding some productive policies from the last four years to invite a surge at our southern border is not compassionate. It’s irresponsible, and will overwhelm already strained resources and dedicated border security professionals. Protecting the sovereignty and integrity of our territorial borders should not be controversial.
“The Committee on Homeland Security will stand strong against all forms of terrorism – both abroad and here at home. Breakdowns in the sharing of intelligence will not be tolerated. This work will require a thoughtful, not knee-jerk, debate to addressing domestic misinformation to prevent radicalization while still respecting civil liberties.
“At its core, this mission is about giving the American people peace of mind. Peace of mind in their homes, peace of mind in their neighborhoods, peace of mind as they travel.
“I’m a prosecutor at heart. This means not getting bogged down by politics, and doing what the facts demand to keep our communities and country safe. It’s that simple. Decades after I prosecuted my first case, that mindset hasn’t changed. The work continues, with perhaps a bigger spotlight than ever before. I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue fighting on your behalf.”