Posted: Nov. 14, 2002


Delaware Congressman Mike Castle, a leader in calling for a Department of Homeland Security, today hailed the final House passage of  "The Homeland Security Act of 2002," which will improve the federal governmentís ability to protect the nation from terrorist attacks by coordinating all agencies responsible for domestic security under a new, single Cabinet Department.  The House passed the bill late last night and the Senate is expected to pass it soon.  President Bush has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

"It took some time, but this final compromise provides the framework necessary to secure our Homeland by streamlining all functions under one Department.  I visited this Department earlier this year and have a first-hand understanding of how effective this will be and now is the time to implement the technology, combine the resources and get it up and running for the safety of our citizens,Ē Castle said.

 "Increased communication and cooperation between agencies responsible for homeland defense are the key aspects of this new Department.  We must monitor this implementation carefully to make sure this is happening in a timely and efficient manner."

 The Homeland Security Act of 2002 states that the departmentís primary mission is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States by reducing our vulnerability. The department is also responsible for minimizing the damage and assisting in the recovery from terrorist attacks. The nationís terrorism defense and response structure is currently a hodgepodge of federal, state and local agencies, but the Department of Homeland Security will coordinate these entities to improve efficiency and effectiveness.  

For example, many agencies that defend our borders, including the Coast Guard, Customs Service and portions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, will move to the Department of Homeland Security. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which leads the governmentís response to natural and man-made disasters and the Secret Service, will also fall under the departmentís jurisdiction.

Immediately after September 11, Castle joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce the Office of Homeland Security Act to give the Department of Homeland Security statutory and budgetary authority.  Since then, Castle has cosponsored the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act, which builds on this legislation and also calls for the coordination among domestic security agencies under one roof.

Castle again cautioned that with the creation of this new department, Congress should examine its own Committee structure to ensure it has the most effective oversight of our new homeland security efforts.

On June 7, Castle wrote to Speaker of the House Hastert urging him to reorganize the House of Representatives to create a Committee on Homeland Security with an accompanying Appropriations Subcommittee contemporaneously with the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security.  Castle pledged to continue to push for these reforms next year.