McCaskill: Leading the Homeland Security Committee

A column by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill – 

It seems like every time I turn on the TV, there’s a new political food fight or scandal. But I’ve done my best to tune out this noise, focusing instead on what should always be the number-one job of elected officials: Protecting our country. From terrorist threats to natural disasters, there is nothing more important than keeping Missourians and all Americans safe.

That’s what I’ve focused on since the first day I joined the United States Senate, and one year ago I was honored to become a leader on the Homeland Security Committee. I take very seriously my commitment to keep Missourians informed about what I’m doing in Congress, so as my first year helping lead the committee comes to a close, I wanted to give you an update on the work I’ve done with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to improve the safety of Missouri’s families.

The United States faces many threats and challenges—we’ve seen terrorist attacks at home and abroad, and we’ve seen those terrorists using new methods to try to wreak havoc on our communities. But Americans are resilient, and with the help of the best military and law enforcement officials in the world, we’ve never had more tools available to keep Missouri and our country safe.

One of my key goals is tackling these emerging threats head-on. This past October, our committee passed a bill I introduced with Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah that requires the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center to better track all terrorist attacks and issue recommendations on how we can shore up weaknesses in security that contributed to each attack. This bill helps us get the information we need to take concrete steps to prevent future terrorist attacks.

I worked with Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas to pass a bill that President Trump signed into law, the Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act. It helps the Homeland Security Department prepare for and prevent threats to farmers, ranchers, and our national food supply. Whether it’s a potential terrorist who contaminates a factory or a potential bird flu epidemic hitting Missouri farms and ranches, it’s critical we’re prepared for anything that could wreak havoc on our food supply or Missouri’s agriculture industry.

To help protect all Missourians, I’ve also been in close communication with top Homeland Security officials about counterterrorism programs. After proposed severe cuts to programs that help state and local organizations protect against and respond to terrorist attacks, I’ve spearheaded an effort to ensure those resources are continued to communities around the country and in our state.

While many politicians on the political extremes are always busy fighting with each other, we should never lose sight of the fact that we’re all Americans, and our government’s first job is to keep all Americans safe. That’s been my focus and it’ll stay that way no matter what.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, where she has served since joining the Senate in 2007. She is also a senior member of the Armed Services Committee.

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