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Senator Hassan Presses Homeland Security Nominee on Commitment to Preventing Homegrown Terrorism

Senator Also Questions FEMA Administrator Nominee on Commitment to Mitigation Efforts

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To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday questioned Chad Wolf, nominee for Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about the Department’s commitment to preventing homegrown terrorism.

The Senator specifically pressed Mr. Wolf about the new DHS Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention, which Acting Homeland Security Secretary McAleenan claimed would be a top priority for the Department. However, last week DHS Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Neumann seemingly confirmed that the office is essentially just a rebranding previous versions of the Department’s existing – and lacking – homegrown terrorism prevention efforts.

“I’m concerned that the Department spends a lot of time rebranding old initiatives instead of working to get better results,” Senator Hassan said. “And I fear that this focus on rebranding reflects a failure of the Department, a failure to learn critical lessons about underfunding and understaffing – that underfunding and understaffing undermine our homegrown terrorism prevention efforts.”

Mr. Wolf claimed that the DHS is working on a strategic plan for the new Office and that it will not simply amount to a rebranding effort.

In May, Senator Hassan sent a letter with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan expressing concern over the rise in domestic non-Foreign Terrorist Organization inspired terrorism over the last few years, and requested information about what steps DHS has taken to mitigate and prevent this threat to protect the safety and security of Americans.

Senator Hassan also questioned Jeffrey C. Byard, nominee to be Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on how he would strengthen mitigation efforts to better protect New Hampshire and communities across the country from extreme weather events. The Senator serves as the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee tasked with emergency management.

“A few years ago, New Hampshire experienced devastating flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene,” Senator Hassan said. “In fact, the U.S. interagency National Climate Assessment last year reported that the Northeast is seeing the largest uptick in heavy rain events. And our infrastructure is taking a toll as these weather events become more intense and more frequent. A 2018 FEMA-sponsored report indicated that every dollar spent on federal mitigation grants saves society six dollars overall.”

Mr. Byard responded, Mitigation is the cornerstone for emergency management. The more we spend up front, the more we can harden our infrastructure, the better that infrastructure will be.”