House passes Homeland Security legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday that strengthens homeland security by protecting first responders, improving disaster preparedness, streamlining programs and management, and more effectively securing the nation's borders.

H.R. 5997, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act, amends the Homeland Security Act by adding funding for increased medical preparedness to protect first responders, their families and immediate victims from a biological or chemical attack. The bill would codify the use of funding from the Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program.

"Experts have repeatedly noted that the threat of a WMD attack is real," Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) said. "We must work to ensure plans, medication and equipment are available to protect the public, including emergency response providers, in the event of an attack. The legislation passed by the House today recognizes the continued importance of ensuring medical preparedness activities remain allowable grant uses. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this bill signed into law."

Other bills passed include the Mandatory Operational Control Reporting and Performance Measures Act of 2012, the DHS Accountability Act of 2012, the Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act and the Clothe a Homeless Hero Act.

"I am pleased that the House has passed these important bills to assist in protecting our first responders, aid our veterans, continue to improve the security of our borders, and ensure the Department of Homeland Security is managed with efficiency as it carries out its mission to protect the lives of Americans," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said. "I urge my colleagues in the Senate to also pass this vital homeland security legislation."