tv U.S. House of Representatives Legislative Business CSPAN February 23, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
>> all of the comments from president obama plus the briefing is available at c-span.org. the house returning after the presidents' day recess. dealing with transportation security administration's pre-check passenger program and anti-terrorism. votes this evening at 6:30. a supportsman rights bill and fraud you lent insurance measure and the senate is in this afternoon. lots of speeches about the judiciary committee's decision and republicans decision not to hold a hearing on the supreme court nominee. live to the u.s. house here on c-span.
south carolina talking about gun violence. she will be speaking in columbia. over on c-span 3 beginning at 6:15 eastern. plan to reduce administrative costs under the robert t. stafford disaster relief and emergency assistance act, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from new york, mr. katko, and the gentleman from indiana, mr. carson, each will control 20 minutes. the chair will now recognize the gentleman from new york. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i ask
unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on s. 2109. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. katko: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. katko: the federal emergency management agency or fema, has provided almost $100 billion in disaster relief and disaster assistance. however, a significant and increasing amount of these funds have gone to cover fema's administrative costs that support the delivery of disaster assistance. the government accountability office, or g.a.o., has been looking into this for some time and found that between fiscal year 1989 and fiscal year 2011 the percentage of disaster assistance spent on administrative costs doubled from 9% to 18%. while fema has tried to implement internal controls to keep these costs to a minimum, g.a.o. has found that fema's administrative costs have not decreased. in fact, g.a.o. estimates that
internal controls could save hundreds of millions of dollars in administrative costs. s. 2109, the directing dollars to disaster relief act of 2015, seeks to control and reduce rising administrative costs from major disasters by requiring the administrator of fema to development plan to control and reduce the internal administrative costs. i'd like to thank the committees for introducing this important oversight measure which will save taxpayer dollars. i thank the senate chairman for working with us to ensure the legislation includes a sunset provision and consistent with our house protocols. it would become critical to keep administrative costs of fema to a minimum, increasing efficiencies and resources are directed towards disaster victims. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation.
thank you. and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from indiana is now recognized. >> i yield myself such time as i may consume. bill 2109, the directing dollars to disaster relief act of 2015 requires the fema to develop a an to control and reduce its disaster-related costs and other costs. mr. carson: fema's costs incurred in administering disaster relive activities has increased. fema has struggled to address this issue. most recently in 2015, the g.a.o. recommended that fema develop an plan to control and reduce administrative costs and g.a.o. said they should track
the administrative costs, such as public assistance and individual assistance. finally. g.a.o. recommended that fema clarify its guidance and minimum documentation requirements for state and local governments with respect to their administrative costs. this bill, mr. speaker, will codify these recommendations and require fema to take these actions. i appreciate the improvements this bill will make toward reducing overall disaster costs and losses. but this is not enough. we must do more to reduce these costs and losses, mr. speaker. there is no better way than to invest in pre-disaster mitigation. to roduced h.r. 830 re-authorize the pre-disaster hazard mitigation program. now we consistently talk about the pongs to reduce disaster
costs and save taxpayer money through disaster mitigation. in fact, our subcommittee has noted the reports by the congressional budget office and the national institute of building sciences, multi hazard mitigation council, which found that pre-disaster mitigation saves $3 to $4 for every dollar spent omit gation activities. but there is more. pre-disaster mitigation activities saves lives and reduces injuries. it is time to stop talking and do more. let us, mr. speaker, re-authorize the pre-disaster mitigation program at levels sufficient to reducing disaster costs and save lives. our citizens deserve this. i look forward to working with my good colleagues on the other side of the aisle to make sure these strides will come to fruition. i reserve.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. katko: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from reserves. the gentleman from indiana. mr. carson: i reserve. mr. katko: i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york yields back. mr. carson: i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass senate 2109. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table. for purpose the gentleman from new york seek recognition? mr. katko: i move the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 34 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title. the clerk: h.r. 3584, a bill to
authorize streamline and identify efficiencies within the transportation security administration and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from new york, mr. katko, and the gentlewoman from new jersey ms. watson coleman each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. mr. katko: i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include any extraneous materials on the bill under consideration. i yield myself such time as i may consume. i rise today in strong support of h.r. 3584, the transportation security administration improvement act. this critical bipartisan piece of legislation has several oversight priorities. including the authorization of the pre-check program, the advancement of risk-based security initiate tiffers and
nigs of vetting and improvement of airport screening technologies. h.r. 3584 takes numerous steps towards augmenting the efficiencies of various t.s.a. programs both the surface and aviation transportation sectors and requires the administrator to conduct a resue of the entire agency. since assuming the chairmanship at the beginning of this congress, i worked with my colleagues to conduct rigorous oversight of this troubled agency. this bill is a effort of our efforts and please to stand before you and consider this important legislation. if signed into law, it will make an impact on the security and safety of the traveling public and american transportation systems. in an era of pronounced and evolving threats, congress must not wait to act in the best interest of transportation
security. the misdirected nature of the t.s.a. requires that we fulfill our obligation to reform this agency into an intelligence-driven organization. when i came to congress, i pledged to my constituents that i would work hard to deliver results and i'm proud of all the work that the committee has done over the past year and honored to have the privilege to sponsor so many pieces of legislation to help keep our country safe. thank ranking member thompson for his time and attention and chairman of the full committee and mr. mccaul for his continued support of the committee's oversight efforts and ensuring important pieces of legislation like h.r. 3584 are considered on the house floor. the committee on homeland security's legislative results under their leadership is working together in a bipartisan fashion not only can we improve the security of our country but
demonstrate to the american people that congress can work together and deliver results. i urge my colleagues to support this bill and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentlewoman from new jersey is recognized. mrs. watson coleman: i rise in and i yield.r. 3584 myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for as much time as she may consume. mrs. watson coleman: i am pleased that h.r. 3584 includes language language by benny thompson to move away how it will identify low-risk passengers for expedited airport screening. in recent years, department of homeland security inspector general and the comptroller general have been critical about the security risks of the so-called managed inclusion process and in response, ranking member thompson introduced the
ex pe dieded screening act which was included in this measure. we have an interest in t.s.a. effectively managing airport screening ensuring that a robust known traveler program for low-risk travelers are built into screening operations just makes sense. that is why i support the spans. pre-checked program under which x pe dieded -- expedited screening is provided. i'm pleased that h.r. 3584 includes provisions to expand the public's enrollment in the pre-check program by among other things, coordinating with the private sector to deploy t.s.a.-approved online and mobile enrollment centers. another key to the effective management is the maintenance of the security equipment. i'm pleased that h.r. 3584 includes language authored by
representative rice, the ranking member on the subcommittee to ensure that t.s.a. puts in place systems to ensure that when it comes to security-related technologies at our nation's airports, timely maintenance is done and documented. according to the d.h.s. inspector general, without proper maintenance and documentation, the t.s.a. could possibly have to resort of using alternate screening methods which could lead to the traveling public being less safe. h.r. 3584 includes language adopted at the full committee to help businesses particularly small businesses to be able to create innovative security technologies to public-private partnership. over the years, we have seen the limbtations of various security technologies in use at our airports. it is crucial that innovations
continue to push the envelope in terms of detection and mitigation capabilities. as a representative of a jurisdiction that relies heavily on mass transit, i'm pleased the bill seeks to ensure that front line workers in our transportation sectors have the training needed to react in worst-case scenarios. the thwarted terrorist attack on train from amsterdam to paris continues to be a terrorist target. these are few examples of provisions in the bill that will help to improve t.s.a. operations and bolster the security of the american people. i urge support for this measure and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from new york. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i have no more speakers. if the gentlelady is prepared to close then i will once she does. mrs. watson coleman: mr. speaker, i yield myself such
time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reservices. the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to talk about the bipartisan work went into this legislation. there is much mob do in the transportation security space but the legislation before us represents a step in the right direction to address issues within the surface and aviation transportation sectors. and with that, mr. speaker, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from new jersey yields back her time. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. katko: mr. speaker, the issues addressed in h.r. 2184 is vital to our nation's security and it's imperative we send it to the senate today. congress cannot afford to do nothing. i urge my colleagues to support the bill and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york yields back the balance of the time. the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 3584, as yammeded.
those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. -- as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from new york seek recognition? mr. katko: mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 4408, as amended. the speaker pro tempore: torpt the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 4408, a bill to require the development of a national strategy to combat terrorist travel, and for other purposes . the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from new york, mr. katko, and the gentlelady from new jersey, mrs. watson coleman, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include any extraneous materials on the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. katko: thank you, mr.
speaker. i spent my life focusing and keeping americans safe but when i assumed office i was taken aback by the lack of stopping terrorists infiltrating our country and that is why i gladly accepted the opportunity to lead the bipartisan task force on combating terrorists and foreign fighter travel. i worked closely with my colleagues to identify our vulnerabilities and to close them quickly. last september we issued the task force's final report, marking the most extensive public review since the 9/11 commission of u.s. efforts to fight foreign terrorist travel. we made 32 key findings in that report and more than 50 recommendations for enhancing our security. we acted on over half of them already including with several of the bills we are considering today. h.r. 4408 would implement one of our top recommendations. it would require the president to send to congress a national
strategy to combat terrorist travel and an actionable plan to implement it. it's been nearly 10 years since the white house produced such a strategy and since then the threat has changed dramatically. terror has gone viral, and violent extremists are recruiting it the speed of a retweet. consequences for u.s. and international security have been enormous. we've seen terrorist groups balloon at the terrorist micro states, capable of fielding their own armies. today in syria and iraq we're looking at the largest convergence of islamist terrorists in history. nearly 40,000 individuals from over 120 countries have traveled there to join jihadist groups, including thousands from western countries like the united states. many of these individuals have easy access to our country and could potentially return undetected to launch attacks like we saw in paris. yet, many of the counterterrorist programs we
have implemented have not kept pace with the evolving threat. what's worse, there is no regular process in place in the executive branch for reviewing all of our defenses against terrorist travel to find security gaps and develop a plan to close them. agencies are operating without clear strategic guidance and counterterrorist travel is not coordinated across the government spectrum. greater t is we are at risk of overlap and duplication. this bill would force the administration to assess all of the efforts in place to stop terrorists to crossing borders, streamline them, prioritize taxpayer dollars where they are needed most. also for the first time ever require the white house to produce a plan for intercepting foreign fighters. after 9/11, we spent a lot of time focused on keeping terrorists from getting into our country, but we did not spend enough time focused on stopping terrorists from
recruiting our citizens to leave it and become overseas operatives. once they travel to syria -- terrorist safe havens, these individuals become a triple threat. they strengthen jihadist groups on the ground, incite followers back home and can return battle hardened and prepared to carry out acts of violence on their homeland. make no mistake, we are at war. isis has already been linked to nearly 75 plots against the west, including more than 20 against the u.s. homeland. our adversaries are clearly dead set on attacking our country. we need to show the american people that we are dead set on defending it. i am proud of the bipartisan work of the task force and grateful for the close collaboration of mr. keating, mr. payne and ms. sanchez on the democratic side. i would like to especially thank mr. vela for his continued support and significant contributions. i am of course indebted to my republican colleagues on the task force for their hard work as well. i want to thank personal office
assistant tim wang and tyler lowe and katie flynn for their excellent work on this as well. i urge all members to join me in supporting this bill and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentlewoman from new jersey is now recognized. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in support of h.r. 4408, the national strategy to combat terrorist travel act of 2016, and i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for as much time as she may consume. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, h.r. 4408 requires the development of a national strategy to combat terrorist travel by bowlesering efforts to intercept -- bolesering efforts to intercept terrorists and fighters while constraining their dombing and international travel. -- domestic and international travel. i applaud the department of homeland security task force on combating terrorists and foreign fighter travel. one of the many findings of the task force's final report was that it has been a decade since
the executive branch produced a governmentwide plan to constrain terrorist travel. in the years since, the issuance of the last governmentwide plan in 2006, many programs aimed at restricting or preventing terrorist travel have changed or ended and new programs have been created. the task force found that hundreds of programs, projects and initiatives have sprouted up to combat terrorist travel since 9/11, but there is no overarching strategy to coordinate them. importantly, h.r. 4408 requires that the strategy include an update -- an update full accounting and description of america's terror travel preventive. this accounting should provide a valuable baseline for future efforts to prevent terrorist travel. with that, mr. speaker, i would urge passage of h.r. 4408, and
i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i have no more speakers. if the gentlewoman from new jersey has no further speakers, i'm prepared to close once the gentlewoman does. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentlelady from new jersey is recognized. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. h.r. 4408 requires the president to submit to congress a national strategy for focused on disrupting -- strategy focused on disrupting terrorists. it includes an accounting of all u.s. programs to constrain terrorist travel, identify gaps and how they will be closed and describe actions to eliminate waste, overlap and duplication of efforts. the evolving nature of the terrorist threat demands a whole government approach, a national strategy with implementation plans for each federal agency involved as h.r. 4408 requires has the potential
to deliver real security advances. as such, i support h.r. 4408 and urge its passage. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from new jersey yields back. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i once again urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill, h.r. 4408, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 4408, as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 having responded in the affirmative, the rules -- mr. katko: mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from new york seek recognition? mr. katko: i request the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this question will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from new york seek recognition? mr. katko: mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r.
4398. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: union calendar 4398, a bill r. to amend the homeland security act of 2002 to provide for requirements relating to documentation for major acquisition programs, and for ther purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from new york, mr. katko, and the gentlewoman from new jersey, mrs. watson coleman, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. katko: mr. speaker, i rise today in support of h.r. 4398, the department of homeland security acquisition documentation integrity act. this legislation requires the department of homeland security to improve management of its major purchases of systems to secure the border, better screen travelers, protect our shores and other vital missions.
too often d.h.s.'s failed to document what these programs will cost, when they will be complete and what they will deliver. it is unacceptable to spend billions of taxpayer dollars and not document this important information. h.r. 4398 will help our committee and congressional watchdogs hold the department accountable and ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent both in an efficient and effective manner. this bill uses language similar to h.r. 3572, the d.h.s. headquarters reform and improvement act, which also includes language that would comprehensively inform d.h.s.'s acquisition process. h.r. 3572 passed the house unanimously in october last year but has yet to be acted upon in the senate. this important bipartisan legislation will improve the oversight and management of billions of taxpayer dollars. it would empower d.h.s. leaders to hold programs accountable, increase transparency to congress and require d.h.s. to articulate a road map for how it spends billions of dollars to secure america. safeguarding americans' lard
earned dollars is why they sent us to washington. -- i my colleagues to commend ranking member watson coleman for her leadership on this issue and i ask all members to join me in supporting this legislation. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentlewoman from new jersey is now recognized. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, i rise in support of h.r. 4398, the d.h.s. acquisition documentation integrity act of 2016, and i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for as much time as she may consume. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i introduced this legislation to ensure when it comes to managing acquisitions the department of homeland security gets the fundamentals right. h.r. 4398 would require complete, accurate, timely and valid documentation to be maintained for each of the department's major acquisition programs. a major acquisition program is defined as one with a life
cycle cost estimated at $300 million or more. later this week, the subcommittee on which i serve as ranking member will be conducting an oversight hearing about an acquisition that is to my mind a textbook case of why my legislation is so critical. after more than 12 years of effort at delivering a departmentwide human resource i.t. system and the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, d.h.s. has virtually nothing to show for it. that acquisition, the human resource information technology program, or hrit, lack basic acquisition documentation, including a valid cost estimate and schedule. under h.r. 4398, d.h.s. would have to maintain current cost estimates and schedules for major acquisition programs. these sources of critical information for acquisition decisionmakers would have to
conform to best practices as identified by the government accountability office. additionally, each component head within d.h.s. would be obligated to submit acquisition documentation to the secretary for the production of an annual comprehensive report to congress on the status of the acquisition. under h.r. 4398, the secretary could only waive these requirements in very limited circumstances. mr. speaker, for this reason, i have outlined here, i urge support for h.r. 4398, and we reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady mr. katko: i have no more speakers. if the gentlewoman has no more speakers, i am prepared to close. mrs. watson coleman: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentlelady is recognized.
mrs. watson coleman: anything less than up to date acquisition increases the odds of costs and overruns and delays delivery of capabilities and did he completes resources that could be put to better use to protect the homeland. the homeland security favorably reported h.r. 4398 on february 2 by unanimous vote. and i thank my colleague for being a part of that. the fact that this legislation is co-sponsored by representatives mccaul and thompson, the chairman and ranking member of our committee reflects a strong commitment to bolstering the effectiveness of d.h. programs. i urge passage, a bill that ensure d.h.s. is a good steward and provide operators in the field with the tools they need to protect the american people. with that. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is
recognized. mr. katko: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. katko: i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 4398 and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 4398. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid pon the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 4402 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: a bill to require review of information regarding persons who have traveled or attempted to travel from the united states to support terrorist organizations in syria and iraq and for other purposes.
the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the hurd an from texas, mr. and the gentlewoman from new jersey, mrs. watson coleman each will control 20 minutes. mr. hurd: i ask unanimous consent that members can include any extraneous materials on the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. hurd: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. hurd: there have been over 250 cases of americans attempting to travel to syria and iraq to support terrorist groups since 2011. 85% of westerners attempting to join groups are succeeding without being apprehended by law enforcement officials. the ability to make it to a war zone has grave consequences. those who have been radicalized make them an even greater
threat. there is a clear breakdown to identify and prevent these individuals from leaving the country in the first place. i introduced the bill which requires department of homeland security to study and identify all known foreign fighter travel to highlight the specific challenges and impedements that law enforcement faces in its attempt to stop individuals from joining terrorist groups in iraq and syria. d.h.s. should be collecting this kind of data. the findings from this type of study is crucial to informing congress on additional steps we can take to improve the security of our nation. this was a key finding in the bipartisan task force of which i was a member. it is imperative we get the right information to the right people at the right time to catch those who have been radicalized before they leave the country, not after they have
gained combat experience. the foreign fighter review act is the first step to giving our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to do just that. i urge members to join me in supporting this bill and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from new jersey is recognized. mrs. watson coleman: i rise in support of h.r. 4402, foreign fighters review act of 2016 and yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for as much time as she may consume. mrs. watson coleman: h.r. 4402 requires the president and the department of homeland security to review information regarding persons who have traveled or attempted to travel from the united states, to syria and iraq since 2011 to support terrorist organizations. this legislation reflects the recommendation issued by the committee on homeland security task force on combatting terrorists and foreign fighter travel in its final report.
the report found that a large number of u.s. persons have been able to travel to dangerous terrorist safe havens in iraq and syria and return to the united states without interdiction. i believe there is a lot to be learned and the instances where we fail to interdifficult. these lessons learned could reveal weaknesses and highlight areas for enhancement. while federal agencies have completed individual reviews of cases within their purview, a coordinated and comprehensive interagency review has never been undertain. it would require such a review. h.r. 402 has the potential to strengthen coordination across the federal government to help prevent u.s. persons from exploiting vulnerabilities in our security apparatus to travel
under the radar to terrorist camps and safe havens in the future. as such, i urge the passage of h.r. 4402 and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady reserves. the gentleman from texas. mr. hurd: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. katko. mr. katko: having spent much of the last year having a bipartisan task force with the author of this bill, it became clear we are not winning the fight to keep americans being recruited. the majority of our citizens who have tried to join isis have succeeded in doing so. they were not stopped by law enforcement. while authorities have worked hard and disrupted serious plots, we have to do more to shut the pipeline. we are constantly briefed about the new threat streams and the terror investigations here at home and americans being lured
to fight in places like syria. we cannot listen to this information and sit on our hands. we need to act. i commend my colleague for this bill and implementing one of our important task force recommendations. we need to conduct a top to bottom review where americans were rerecruited and need to figure out where we could have done more to stop it. this is why i rise in strong support of h.r. 4402. this legislation will ensure that our government takes a hard look at how to better deter, detect and disrupt terrorist travel especially when it involves its own citizens. this will not be a review that is ordered and forgotten. they have to return to congress with the lessons learned with the recent cases so we can fix the problem rather than allow it to persist. my colleague has important knowledge when we focus on these
issues. i thank mr. hurd for his leadership especially on national security issues and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york yields back. the gentleman from texas reserves. e gentlelady from new jersey is recognized. mrs. watson coleman: i have no further speakers and i'm prepared to close if the gentleman is prepared to close. mr. hurd: i have no other speakers. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from new jersey is ready to close. mrs. watson coleman: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. watson coleman: i urge . ssage of h.r. 4402 under this measure, its review is to be submitted to congress with 120 days of enactment. the findings of that review have the potential of informing policy makers as we work to strengthen our ability to prevent travel to terrorist
sanctuaries and with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hurd: i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 4402 and i thank the gentleman from new york for his leadership on the task force and my colleague from new jersey for her work on the homeland security committee. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas yields back. the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 4402 as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative -- the yeas and nays are requested. all those in favor of taking this vote will rise and remain standing. a sufficient number having arisen, yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8, rule 20, further proceedings on this uestion will be postponed.
pursuant to clause 12 i've a of >> the house has gaveled out temporarily. members back at 6:30 eastern for votes and speeches. earlier this afternoon the chamber debated a bill that requires the president to submit to congress a national strategy to combat travel by terrorists and foreign fighters. they'll vote on that when they come back. later this week, work on legislation relating to defendants in fraudulent lawsuits and state courts. as well as a bill that aims to expand opportunities for hunting and fishing and shooting on federal lands. follow the house live when they return here on c-span at 6:30 eastern. and later this afternoon, our road to the white house coverage continues with remarks from hillary clinton on gun control issues and gun violence. she'll speak with voters and supporters at the first baptist church of columbia, south carolina. see that live at 6:15 eastern over on c-span3.
and tonight, republican voters had to caucus in nevada after hillary clinton won the democratic caucus on saturday. starting at around midnight eastern tonight, we'll bring you live speeches and the results should start coming in from the caucuses. and we should hear from ted cruz and donald trump. you can see our campaign coverage tonight here on c-span. >> c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tomorrow morning, congressman paul tonko of new york will be live with us to talk about the state of the nation's water supply system and the proposed bill on water safety legislation. also michael waledman will be with us to talk live about his new book, the fight to vote. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" beginning live at 7:00 eastern tomorrow morning. join the discussion. >> earlier today, president obama announced his plan to close the guantanamo -- close
the guantanamo bay detention facility in cuba and explained why he feels it's necessary. here's a portion of his remarks. president obama: in our fight againsts terrorists like
al qaeda and isil, we are using every element of our national power. ur military, intelligence, diplomacy, homeland security, law enforcement, federal, state, and local, as well as the example of our ideals as a country that's committed to universal values. including rule of law and human rights. in this fight we learn and we work to constantly improve. when we find something that works, we keep on doing it. when it becomes clear that something is not working as intended, when it does not advance our security, we have to change course. for many years it's been clear that the detention facility at
guantanamo bay does not advance our national security. it undermines it. this is not just my opinion. this is the opinion of experts. this is the
opinion of many in our military. it's counterproductive to our fight against terrorists because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit. it drains military resources with nearly $450 million spent last year alone to keep it running. and more than $200 million in additional costs needed to keep it open going forward for less than 100 detainees. guantanamo harms our partnerships with allies and our countries whose cooperation we need against terrorism. when i talk to other world leaders, they bring up the fact that guantanamo's not esolved. moreover, keeping this facility
opened is contrary to our values. it undermines our standing in the world. it is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law. >> the president's plans to close guantanamo bay was a major topic at today's white house briefing with press secretary josh earnest. but first we'll begin with remarks on what's currently being done to fight isis with brett mcgurk. he serves as the presidential envoy for the global coalition to combat isil. josh: before we get started here, i want to introduce brett, he's the president special envoy to our global counter-isil coalition, and he's prepared some materials to address with you, some progress we're seeing on the ground against isil in iraq and in syria. then, he's got a little time afterwards to take a handful of
questions frall of you. so we'll do that before we go back to our regularly scheduled programming. so brett, i'll turn it over to you. brett: thanks, josh. hi. i thought what we'd do, i'd take about 10 minutes to put you into the picture of what we're seeing day-to-day in this very difficult, extraordinarily complex fight against isil. i can't under-- overstate the complexity of this, and yet despite this, we have real traction against this very serious enemy. we define isil, it's a global organization. that's why we built a global coalition of 66 partners to combat it. it's defined as the core of iraq and sear yarks the phony self-proclaimed caliphate. there are networks, global networks, propaganda networks, foreign fighter networks, finance networks, although we ot a handle on them, and
libya, we took some action there this week. what i wanted to focus on today, about 10 minutes of opening, is the core in iraq and syria, because there's been a great deal of focus on there. and as the president has said, we have to defeat them in the core and show this is not an expanding movement. it's actually a shrinking movement. and so to defeat them in the core is how you begin to unravel the global network and we've begin to see that in some concrete ways. there's a map here, which i'll go around very briefly kind of clock-wise to describe what's happening and just how complex this is and what we're working to do. the number one, that is what we call the pocket about 98 kilometers strip with turkey. it's the last remaining outlet of isil's territory with the outside world. turkey has done a very good job of beginning to close down that border and the president spoke with the president earlier this week and that was of course one
of the topics of conversation. just to situate this map right here, orange is areas that isil controls. green are areas they lost within the last 18 months. you can see the constriction of the areas they used to control and red is where they've made some gains. so just to the west of this number one is where they tried to push out. we call that the mari line. they've tried to push that out for a year. we think we halt that had flow but the russian air campaign in this part of the country has dramatically complicated the picture. the russians in working with the regime has cut out the weapons corridor. it's actually a primarily humanitarian corridor and this has really created a real humanitarian crisis. it's also completely shaken up the situation north of there to the turkish border and it's one of the most complex areas of the map which i'm happy to talk about in more detail. raqqah is where their headquarters are. it's where plots like paris are
coordinated. so we'll focus on eliminating raqqah every single day. we're doing air strikes there constantly but most importantly, not just the military part, we're fusing information from across the government and most importantly from across the coal bigs what we know about this enemy, about how it finances itself, how it communicates, how it funds itself. we know more now that we ever did before and we're beginning to constrict its hold on raqqah. the west, the dam, that was the main roadway from mombage to raqqah. it's blocked off. isil cannot use that. and then if i move to number three, number three right now s the town of al-shadaddi. in operation started about three, four days ago and it's a very complex operation and it includes thousands of fighters. i won't get into the specific numbers but about 40% of them are non-kurds. 60% are kurd. when i was in could he banny a couple weeks -- cobani a couple
weeks ago, the main focus was to get these groups together and put them together to consolidate with some mass to move on isil, particularly there. to think about it, the metaphor, there are groups that are kind of shards of wood that want to fight isil. we try to put them together in a bundle. and what we have here is a baseball bat. it's kurds, it's arabs, it's christians. the number of forces with good command and control, good coordination of our airpower and they're having some real effect. but this is, again, there's a military side but what i'm primarily focused on is a the politics of this. who's going to govern it? it's primarily an arab town and we're very closely to make sure that locals are in control of that town once it's cleared of isil. so that is still ongoing. it will unfold over the coming days. so far, though, it's going fairly well. number four is sinjar. it was the main connector between raqqah and most you
will. it is the last cutting off piece of raqqah and mosul and make sure they can't travel those roads anymore so it's been sinjar, shidaddi, cutting off raqqah and mosul. was primarily kurdish peshmerga fighters. what we have weg know about the yazidi slaves, they used to take their -- they would take these young women off sinjar mountain, collect them, separate them and then bring them to shidaddi to kind of trade them as slaves. so what we're doing here is not only a military operation, it's kind of a moral imperative to -- away e areas away r from isil. mosul, of course, everybody talks about. when are we going to move on mosul? we don't answer that question because we won't put a time line on it.
mosul, we are trying to constrict it. we're pulling all our information, our intelligence, basically learn more about them, do air strikes. and again most importantly, working the local politics. so i'm in constant with our ambassador on the ground in baghdad, our diplomats in the field and taking these shards of wood together and turning them into a baseball bat. what we've done for mosul, we're setting up joint head quarters, pulling these fighters that will fight isil. it's sunni tribes. it's a local province. merga.aqi pressure -- peshmerga. and i saw the president of the kurdistan region to talk about how we'll do mosul, not only militarily but also politically. it's something we've focused on and coming along very well.
i'll skip seven because seven is tikrit. tikrit, an iconic city, it's where isil moved in the summer of 2014, killed thousands of eople and put it on youtube. it was taken back last year. the operation is called stabilization and that means returning internally displaced people, getting the lights back on. extremely, extremely difficult to do, especially when we don't have large numbers of forces on the ground to do that. we're working through the u.n. and through our local partners. by crete has been a success. about 9 -- tikrit has been a success. bout 90%, 95% has returned home. and that's because of the prime minister and is delegating the authority to the governor and to local sunni leaders in this area to take charge. through the global coalition, we have a stabilization fund. about $80 million now to fund these very quick hit rapid
projects. so tikrit was a proof of concept. it actually worked very well. and now we're doing the same thing in ramadi. security operations in ramadi finished about a few weeks ago. there's still some things ongoing but now we're focused on the stabilization piece, trying to get people back into their homes. most importantly, trying to get demining and i.e.d.'s out of the streets and the home. the governor of anbar province who was in ramadi. every second or third home is wired with i.e.d.'s and land mines so to get people back, we have to get the demining teams in. that's iraqi demining teams but also international demining teams. the foreign minister of norway will be here later this week. norway has taken a global leadership role on this type of issue. we'll be talking to them about that. so setting up the conditions for ramadi to get the stabilization moving. that's again already started. we have about 36 electronic -- electricity generators have come in. about 115 more will be coming
in phase two. very, very hard. very painstaking. very tedious. requires the governor of baghdad to delegate authority to local leaders in anbar province and it's something we're working with them every single day so the stabilization piece what comes after isil is a real focus of ours. number nine in had a deetha because -- haditha. president obama made the decision to put our forces and our special forces out at al-assad airbase. we're joined by some of our coalition partners and i was out there a few times. it's wild west territory. it was very difficult. had we not gotten out there when we did, this entire area would be controlled by isil. we started to work with two or hree tribes, reconnecting with relationships we had. we have about 10,000 fighters. they are now moving and operating on offensive operations and doing a great job and that's because of our great operators who are out
there. number 10 is ripa. ripa is the highway from amman to baghdad. we had a team last week in amman, king abdullah is of course here this week. we saw the king last week with his entire interagency team. his chief of defense, his defense minister to talk about the western province and jordan and the role that jordan can play and the importance of opening up this economic lifeline and that's something that we're also going to be looking to do. it's not just defeating isil. it's about what comes after and opening up the economic interconnections between these places that isil has severed. i'll just focus les on 11, that's pilmyra. it's difficult for isil to take territory. the last major offensive operation it really had was in may of last year when it retook ramadi. little things here and there. but it is what you shall, as we
push isil from the north, they try to fill space to the south and southwest. and it's also something we're focused very much with our jordanian partners on and that's why king abdullah will be here this week. he'll of course see the president. so all of this, it's military, it's economic, it's diplomatic, it's political. it's extraordinarily complex. we've made a great deal of progress, particularly over the last six months after we put a lot of the pieces together and i think you'll see over the coming weeks and months more of that coming into shape. shidaddi is something happening this week but there will be more coming that i won't preview. we're in constant communication with our national security team and the president and the president will be coming to the state department on thursday, as he's come to the pentagon in past and we of course have meetings constantly. but to talk about the political, diplomatic piece of this which is critical to the long-term success. so that is the core. shrinking the core in iraq and
syria which is fundamental to our overall strategy. and at the same time drawing up the global networks and, of course, focusing on the affiliates. one thing i'll tell you about the global networks, my final point, is finances because i think you've been briefed by my colleague, adam, and others about the finances. took a long time to figure out how is this organization financing itself, what are its weaknesses and how can we go after it. that was a very intensive intelligence-driven exercise on our part and with the coalition. we learned an awful lot and then we began to systematically, working with our d.o.d. colleagues, rooting out their economic infrastructure. we know that isil is now cutting its salaries to its fighters by about 50% and i think you're going to see that continue to decrease. their ability to fund themselves has taken a substantial hit and we're going to make sure that it continues on that trajectory. so with that, that's a very short overview, an
extraordinarily complex situation but i'm happy to take questions. >> [indiscernible] >> thanks. what about the current number of foreign fighters in iraq and syria? and we've been hearing a lot about saudi arabia making these offers to possibly use ground troops or do something more. what can you say about that as well? brett: so foreign fighters, it's a great question, because it -- the foreign fighter question kind of exemplifies why this is -- we've never seen something like this before. so total foreign fighters we've seen about 35,000 from about 120 countries. total number overtime. we've gotten it down now to -- over time. we've gotten it down to about 25,000 if you put that in perspective and depends who you talk to who are following this in the afghanistan days in the 1980's, it's about twice as many jihadist foreign fighters that went into a theater and that was only a handful of countries. so that's why this is such a
global threat like something we've never seen. so what are we trying to do? it's not only working with our partners in turkey and close the borders and the turks have done a good job of that but also the source countries. hey're coming from 120 countries all around the world. we've improved that quite a bit. but it's still an extraordinary challenge. we want to make sure that foreign fighters can't get into syria. once they get into syria they'll never get out. those that get into yria are having a miserable go it. saudi arabia is a key partner. a real leader in terms of the countermessaging especially the religiously-based messaging. and we encourage that. when they come to us with ideas,
we are open, because we want them to be part of this campaign within the umbrellas of our broader coalition. reporter: you mentioned the core. in terms of the capability that isis has to plot or orchestrate do you have paris the ability to degrade or not know whether they have the same capability that they had a few months ago that orchestrated that attack? mr. mcgurk: we know about it than before and continuing to learn more about it. and as we have shown, we will learn about it and completely uproot it and eradicate. what makes life different, it is a state-like entity. it controls territories with millions of people. it plans operations and then sends its operatives up through
the pocket and able to sneak out. harder for them to get out. we want to make sure the border is sealed and take the territory away so they can't move. that's why we had to take that ban. that is a bridge over the river. much harder for them to move. and as we know who is part of that network, we'll target them and that's something our d.o.d. on.tion are focused reporter: is it something you are able to trace. money, some fighters, looking? mr. mcgurk: they try to inspire attacks and we have worked very closely with twitter and
facebook, everything to eliminate their ability to do that. but that's kind of lone wolf attacks they are trying to inspire. but they are trying to plan bigger things. paris was planned by some of their foreign fighter ex term operatives. jihadi john was one of the main guys on the internet trying to inspire lone wolf attacks. that was his main reason for joining. we were able to find him and kill him. we'll continue to do that. say to what do you syrian rebels that perhaps the united states hasn't been a reliable ally to them in recent onths?
[indiscernible] mr. mcgurk: one thing we are doing is working very hard at cessation of facilities. no one is under any illusions how difficult this will be. and my colleague is talking to all the groups now. area. are working in this the area is not al-nusra or isil, but groups. if it is to take root and hold. we should see a serious de-escalation there. the conflict and we had a lot of discussions with our partners on this and with the russians. and it's the type of conflict that can go on and on. if you look at the numbers, --n-source numbers about 100
100,000 fighters have been killed. this is something that can go on and on forever. if the russians doesn't make some changes and can't have a serious political process which is not locked into the resolution, this will go on forever. what we are trying is to de-escalate the conflict and begin to change the dynamic and get humanitarian supplies. we have seen some progress. we are working so hard on that right now. we'll know more. we have a lot of people working very hard at it. reporter: this ceasefire of hostilities doesn't hold, is the u.s. reputation further damaged? mr. mcgurk: we are preparing for
all contingencies. in part you spoke about damascus, isis has been able to infiltrate what has been an assad stronghold and talk to what you are seeing in libya. how is the growth of foreign fighters there and the kind of structure different than what is happening in syria? mr. mcgurk: isil took credit for the car bombings. and we have no reason to doubt it was isil. they have done a number of attacks in damascus before. isil is a threat to everybody. and all of our partners in the region, we try to make this point. there are different depth perceptions. but isil is a threat to everybody and a threat to the people in damascus. and we want to unite ranks as
much as possible against isil. libya is a bit of a different situation. you don't have the sectarian dynamic like we have in iraq and syria, but we do see isil using the same tactics that it used in syria. it establishes itself, eliminates all competitors and tries to attract the migrants in rica and own open source propaganda, they are saying don't go into the caliphate in syria, come to libya. they are trying to attract foreign fighters in libya. where it has roots, it eliminates all of its competitors and trying to project attacks like we have seen in tune neice yeah. it is a threat and something we are focused on every day. the focus we want to see in libya is to have the process
completed and hoping for a vote to approve a new government of national accord from which we can have another international community, support that government and help them get off its feet. when we see a threat in libya, we won't hesitate. reporter: given the proximity of libya to europe, is there more of a focus not only on the affiliates but having the affiliates act externally? mr. mcgurk: when we had the coalition get together in rome with secretary kerry and a main topic of conversation was libya. we are now flying our i.s.r.'s out of italy. libya is a huge focus and launched external attacks from libya. one reason we launched the attack the other day on a
opposition? mr. mcgurk: excellent question and isil, we have not seen they will launch major operations in syria. it is doing some things, trying to take away territory from the regime. that sort of stuff goes on day-to-day. delineating where isil is is fairly easy and where al-nusra is is fairly easy but we have difficult parts of the country to marble together. if you read the statement, we have agreed to try to delineate as best we can but the groups will not be attacked. it's very clear. so if groups are signing of the cessation of hostilities and attacks continue that will be a violation. it is very clearly stated and signed on to by the russians.
we have to see how it is implemented. but the proof of the pudding is in the eating of these things. once we get into the implementation phase and if the russians and regime are attacking opposition groups, they will be in total violation of cessation of hostilities. but you hit the nail on the head of a very difficult question which we need to talk about as best we can. but we have an agreement from the russians and we have to see but opposition groups that agree to cessation of hostilities will not be attacked. that's the agreement. and nobody is under any illusions how difficult it will e.
reporter: are you set to carry out more air strikes as the political process plays and you said this is a big focus in europe. do you expect a lot of cooperation from the european partners on this? mr. mcgurk: i would expect a lot of cooperation, italy, france and particularly rome are talking about taking a leading role and supporting a new government of national accord. there has been a great effort and emphasis of getting that information process finalized. at the same time, we aren't letting these threats fester as we saw earlier this week. but we want to see the government formed as early possible. my colleague, our envoy with libya is working with the u.n. special envoy. we want to see the government formed. once the government is formed, the international community and the partners will swining behind
it. when we see threats emerging such as isil and threaten us or our partners, we won't hesitate to act. reporter: would you agree the strategy ister-isil working? >> if you look back to 18 months ago and i was in iraq when most you will fell. i was in baghdad, we were having very serious conversations about the total collapse of baghdad and the fall of the baghdad airport and the fact that you ad this. if you go from that point to where we are now. take it from iraq, work as a coalition to rebuild a force that was totally demoralized, to
and i them back up and think we have made quite a bit of progress. but my first point was how difficult this was going to be. we knew this was going to take a long time. recognizing how difficult this is, and just look at the map of taking 40% of their territory in iraq and continue to shrink, we are having good effect. we were taking out their leaders and that is going to continue and we are doing some things, but some momentum is beginning to build. they flowed freely. they had the highway and now they can't. and that road is cut off. we will continue to squeeze them nd coven strict them and
galvanize the international community. so i think it has been effective ut nobody working on this is under any illusions of how sophisticated this organization is. it's not just a bunch of leaders plotting, it's organic. they try to inspire lone wolf attacks. so it's something we try to stay ahead of every day. we within our government led by the president and national security team, we have a flat organization working on fusing information from the treasury department, state department, to stay ahead of what is happening. we are doing a better job now of that. we have to keep at it. but i think the momentum has turned. the foreign fighter numbers are beginning to go down and we are going to keep at it.
reporter: i want to ask you about turkey and talk about their role in this. they didn't seem to be happy when you met and that the u.s. should be for or against -- can you talk about how turkey will play a role incestation of hostilities and not taking out the kurdish fighters. mr. mcgurk: i have been to turkey more than any other country in the last 18 months. they were a critical partner. i was there with vice president biden. we are working with them extraordinarily closely and when president obama saw the president, one of the main conversations was the strip of border. we had some recommendations for the turks and we have worked closely together and made a real
difference on that border. we are going to continue that very close partnership. my trip was focused on getting the political cohesiveness, not just kurds, arabs, christians and other units to begin them to move. that was the main purpose of the trip. and now that the operation is under way. we feel pretty good about it. but we are going to work closely with turkey day-to-day. they are one of the primary partners for us in this campaign. the president spoke. and we have to work on this closely together. we can't succeed on this without turkey. > a quick follow-up. reporter: in your answer, you talked about how they have been taken back in syria and iraq.
look at isil as an overall organization and factor in what they have been able to gain in libya and the foreign fighters have now started to go through libya and see what they have done in terms of recruitment and inspiring followers globally. would you say that this organization is stronger or weaker than it was 18 months ago. not just the core but the overall? mr. mcgurk: i think overall it's weaker. a couple of things. some of the affiliates such as libya, it's isil taking advantage of our situation. ey are not sending paratroopers. boko haram. ey flag -- fly the flag of isil. these are mostly locally driven
events. libya is a little different. that's why we are concerned about it. but look at how they recruit and recruit on three levels. come live in this historic movement. that's a vast majority of their propaganda that it's a historic movement, it's expanding and go to roman come be a partner. 60% of the propaganda is that. doesn't get much attention because the second part is the gore, violence and mayhem. that is a small part and then the religiously-based message. but that first primary propaganda effort on their part is no longer credible. he is r chief spokesman, on the defensive trying to explain, here's how we lost the
territory. it's a totally different message and not inspiring people. 18 months ago when i was in australia, there was a sense that isil was totally on the march and that was having a radicalizing effect. not the case anymore. it's shrinking. their leaders are dying and that will continue to be the case. i'm going to make the point, nobody here working this every day is under any difficult illusions for how hard it is to build coalitions but coalition of different actors on the ground to be cohesive. it's really hard. and given that, if you look where we were 18 months ago until now, you can now see the
progress and will see moreover the coming months. but nobody is under any illusions how hard it's going to be. reporter: thank you for the map. it's very helpful and you .hought about this so carefully and i like the way you described the global perspective. and you talked about the moral imperative. tell me more about where that comes from. and where does that lead the -- leave the u.s.? mr. mcgurk: this is an organization that enslaves women and destroys our common heritage and murders anybody that agrees with them. it speaks for itself. iraq and n northern
get a sense from the fighters and from the president and the commanders that this wasn't simply a mission against a brutal enemy, it's against an enemy that is different and what it has done to people. and it also exemplifies why the post-isil is so hard and i'll tell you a story from that meeting before that operation began. very senior commander told me he was dealing with the local leaders about after the operation who's going to govern and who's going to take charge. and we are very focused once areas are cleared you don't have revenge attacks. things can unravel. and the commander told me he was discussing this with an elderly citizen from this area talking
about this fact, what comes after. and he said the elderly man said these people, daesh, they took my wife, they took my three daughters, they took my sister and all i have left in this life is my revenge against these people. so that is what they have done to the psychology in some of these places. and so what we are working to do as we clear out isil is to make sure there is a way in working with the u.n. and coalition to restore life to these areas so you don't get into these cycles of revenge. your question hit on something, not only is it imperative for us to defeat this enemy and also focus on what comes after. that's part of the campaign. mr. earnest: thank you, brett.
i know the map up here is a little hard to read. we have copies of the map that we distribute on paper. we'll make sure we can get you a copy. but obviously, brett's experience in the region and the amount of work he has put into this is a pretty useful mess ener and helping you understand exactly what our strategy is and what we are focused on advance the interests of the united states and keep the american people safe and that is going on at a rapid pace even though it's not in the day's headlines and rare for brett to spend a day in washington, d.c., and i thought it was important to make sure he was on schedule. he is based here but spent so much time traveling in the region, it's hard for him to spend an entire workday here in
washington, d.c.,. with all that, keff quinn, let's go to your questions on other topics. reporter: should senate republicans take the advice of joe biden from 1992 when he said action on supreme court nominations should be put off until the election campaign is over or should the president's nominee be given full consideration? mr. earnest: vice president in 1992 said if the president consults and consents with the senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, his nominees may enjoy my support as did justices kennedy and suiter. we could spend time throwing quotes back and forth andic dick and how this process --
indicative of how this process has become plight sized. when you consider he presided the last time he was nominee put forward by a republican president and joe biden was chairman of the senate judiciary committee and ensured that justice kennedy got a timely hearing and yes or no vote. we are asking the senate to do. senator biden more than anyone else has ensured the confirmation of nine supreme court gist tieses. i don't think any other senator can stake the claim to that kind of record. e confirmed justices not appointed by democrats.
appointees on republican president were confirmed to the supreme court. there is often there is a quote that politicians are reduced to the expression that people should do as i say, not as i did. we want the republicans in the senate to do precisely as vice president biden did when he served in the senate and if so, it will allow the president's nominee when he puts that individual forward to get a fair hearing, to get a timely yes or no vote and for the supreme court of the united states to function precisely as the founders intended. reporter: senators are going to pick and choose quotes, but would you acknowledge that the comments senator mcconnell was saying on the senate floor quoting the vice president, would you acknowledge that this is made more difficult more than
likely that the nominee will get a hearing and a vote? mr. earnest: i would not because of vice president's biden's record when he served on the judiciary committee. i said the examples of justice kennedy and his overall record of confirming supreme court justices. vice president biden, when he presided over the confirmation hearing of justice thomas, he did not support justice thomas' nomination, but he allowed his nomination to move onto the floor of the united states senate. that is the kind of commitment to the functioning of the institution of the united states senate that we would like to see republicans demonstrate. that isn't just a matter of doing as senator biden recommends as then senator biden recommended.
that is doing as then senator biden actually did and that's what we are counting or republicans of the united states senate to do. and again, they shouldn't do it because they are forced into some position based on awkward quotes that they themselves have given and we know there are plenty of them and maybe we could discuss those as well. in some ways the important element of this, it's a constitutional duty. they swore to uphold an oath and fulfill the responsibility that the institution of the united states senate has to consider the president's nominee, to give that individual a fair hearing and give that person a yes or no vote. and there are at least two senate republicans yesterday who acknowledged that oath and acknowledged that if the president, when the president nominates someone the hearing should go forward. senator kirk specifically referenced the oath that he
took, not just as a member of the united states senate but as a member of our armed forces. he takes that oath seriously and he recognizes that given the president's nominee a fair hearing is what that oath requires and hopefully he will be able to persuade other members in his conference of the importance of that oath. reporter: the report on guantanamo bay, why not name 13 facilities considered or at least make a recommendation for a facility to move the transfereys that would be left? part of what the administration is saying, you want to rise above politics with the issue and have congress move forward but are political concerns keeping you from naming these facilities and is it a concern
not to put certain lawmakers on the spot if you named certain facilities >> the reason that the administration can't undertake a more thorough and detailed evaluation of a specific site is because it's specifically prevented by congress. congress passed the statute that instructed and has prevented the administration from undertaking serious planning that would be required to do the prudent thing, which is close the prison at guantanamo bay and to take those individuals who cannot be safely transferred to other countries and incarcerate them here in the united states that. is a commonsense proposal as the plan we rolled out today makes clear. it would save taxpayers bill quons of dollars over a couple of decades and/or at least $1.7 billion over a couple of decades
and we would be eager -- in fact, we are asking congress to work with us to allow us to do the kind of planning that needs to be done to do this safely and in a cost-effective fashion. but we need congressional cooperation in order to do that. congressional cooperation is a reference to congress removing a barrier that prevents that from happening. and if congress is willing to act on that, then we will be able to move in a direction about having serious discussions about specific plans. and the department of defense has indicated that these kinds plans could be initiated in relatively short order. so this doesn't necessarily need to be a longer term goal but what we need to see is the willingness to put the interests
of our national security ahead of their politics. reporter: you are saying it is a law that prevented the administration from putting forward more detailed plan? this was a nine-page plan. it seemed kind of spars. are you saying that it was legislation, laws that have prevented you from going into more detail? and also if it's the case, you you need congress to act to pass laws to remove restrictions, if they don't, what is the administrations plan going forward? mr. earnest: the administration is constrained by law from undertaking design or detailed planning for a u.s.-based facility and that hinders our ability to put forward the kind of details that you are suggesting. however, what we were able to do within the confines of the law is to very much a plan based on a prototype detention facility,
a model and estimate of what that looks like. that is a saving to the year.ers of $85 million a over 10 years, that is a net savings of more than $300 million over 10 years and those costs explode over the longer term. we are talking about savings of $1.7 billion over 20 years. so there is a clear argument. the facts bear this out. you can look at the numbers and see there is a significant benefit for taxpayers of doing something that is clearly within our national security interests. it is not just president obama who thinks that closing the prison at guantanamo bay would advance our national security. president bush held the same view. senator mccain at one point even held the same view. this is obviously the view of
our department of defense that issued this report. this is the view of 60 retired generals who wrote a letter announcing their support for this plan. we hear rhetoric that the president needs to do a better job of listening to his military leaders. they suggest this is necessary to enhance our national security. and right now it is congress who isn't listening to them, but congress who is actively blocking these steps to save taxpayers money and to make our country safer. reporter: given what you just said and what loretta lynch said back in november with respect to individuals being transferred to the united states, the law does not allow that. certainly it is the position of the department of justice that we would follow the law of the land. given that it would be against the law to bring detainees at
guantanamo bay to the united states, is it safe to say that congress does not act to change the law and the prison at guantanamo bay will not be closed? mr. earnest: what we are focused on right now is congressional consideration of a plan that basically asks for so we can have a discussion about the best path forward. it's clear based on this plan submitted to congress right on the time frame they asked for, we are interested in a consultation about this. reporter: i don't understand how you are willing to rule that out. i think you just said from the podium and the attorney general of the united states said in congressional testimony and in fact the defense secretary said just last month that it would be against the law to move those detainees to the united states. unless you are just going to let them all go, how could you close
down that prison? mr. earnest: nobody is talking about letting them all go. we put forward a specific plan how the individuals can be transferred to other countries, go through a criminal justice process or safely incarcerated here in the united states. that is a cost-effective plan. reporter: what is congressional reaction? mr. earnest: the plan we have put forward actually lays out what our argument is, reflects the facts. reflects the facts that we can do it in the way we have outlined and reflects and protects our national security and we are interested in this conversation with congress. there is an emerging trend in congress, where congress isn't in a position of just saying no, congress is refusing to engage. they aren't actively saying no, they are refusing to do the
function of their job. they are refusing to even consider the president's nominee to the supreme court and refusing to take action on aumf or discuss the budget with the president's budget, something that has happened over the last 40 years. i'm not sure what they are doing in congress, they are doing everything but fulfilling their responsibilities. reporter: they have been asked to vote in a fashion to say no, they don't want detainees brought to the united states. i'm asking you if they don't act on this and approve this plan that you just outlined, can the president still close that detention facility? mr. earnest: congress requested this plan on this time frame and we have provided it to them. they have to decide whether or not they want to take a look at this. what they have done is put in place barriers that prevented
the administration moving forward. they have led us down the path of a policy that wastes taxpayers' dollars and make the united states more vulnerable. reporter: are there barriers still in place, will you close the facility? mr. earnest: what the president has said our focus is going to be working with congress and working with congress is working on a time frame and we are asking congress to give it fair consideration and i'm not going to speculate if congress refuses to do that. reporter: rubio suggested that the president is considering turning over the entire naval base to cuba. is that something that is under consideration? mr. earnest: it is not under consideration and we have said that many times. reporter: cost savings over 20-year period. does that mean the american
people -- [indiscernible] reporter: we are talking about individuals that were apprehended and transferred as teenagers. it does mean that we need to start thinking long-term about how this process is going to work. again, our preference is where possible is to conduct a review and determine how these individuals can be transferred to other countries with appropriate security restraints and make sure we are mitigating my risks they pose to the united states. there is a long process for certifying that. it requires specific prolve of the department of defense. therefore 35 individuals who are currently detained at the prison at guantanamo bay who are eligible for that process. we just need to find a willing partner overseas who is willing to receive that individual and put in place the security restraints we believe are necessary.
we have discussed at some length the options for bringing these individuals to justice either through military commissions or through article 3 courts. the president made an illusion to some reforms of that process that he believes would make military commissions in particular themselves more cost effective and efficient. some of you may have seen earlier today a tweet from the chief of staff who indicated that right now we have a situation at the prison at guantanamo bay that it's not possible for some individuals to actually just plead guilty. that's an indication that we need to fix our broken system and right now, again, as john pointed out, all we have seen is congress throwing up obstacles. we would like to seekonk engage with us so we can act in the
best interests of taxpayers and our national security and then we don't end up in a situation where this unwieldy problem ends up on the plate of the next president, whoever that person may be. reporter: people on the hill are calling this dead on arrival. is there a plan b? mr. earnest: the plan was put forward a couple of hours ago. it sounds like it is pretty inconsistent. you have to ask congress if they were disingenuous. sounds like they didn't take it very seriously. and again, i actually think that reinforces a pretty significant problem that congress has. anybody who is paying attention it's hard to figure out what they are doing. they are ruling out consideration of the president's nominee to the supreme court and refused to take tangible action
against isil and won't engage in a hearing with the president's budget director in the same way that every congress in the last four years has. i don't know what is happening. what we are focused on right now is doing the job of the american people and making sure we are being good stewards and i think in each of those stances, what you have is the administration trying to move the country forward and put politics aside and act. on the part of congress, you see nothing. reporter: what you are describing is that the white house is trying to work with congress and dependent on congress to get this prison closed. but in the face of that opposition, is the president willing to leave office with guantanamo bay still open? mr. earnest: that is not his preference. i remember standing -- siticing
in that chair over there and i believe january 22, 2009, where the president put forward his plans. we have been talking about this for more than seven years. this has been a top priority. and each turn we have been ymied by congress and that's frustrating. and how irresponsible it is to treat taxpayer dollars and our national security in that way. reporter: are you going to let the clock keep ticking and time is of the essence. mr. earnest: congress is going to let the clock tick. we put forward a very specific plan for ensuring that doesn't happen. and we are hopeful that somebody in congress somewhere will actually take a serious look at this and be willing to put the national security of the united
states and the importance of efficient use of taxpayer dollars ahead of their own personal political considerations. that may be a bold consideration to make in washington, d.c., these days particularly in an election year but it's what the american people expect and what the constitution requires. reporter: the president talked about this scary idea for people moving terrorists closer to the u.s. mainland and some ways to their own back yard. given there are among these 91 people here, still about 46 who can't be cleared out, there isn't enough evidence against them but too much worry to release them. moving those people to the u.s. mainland, isn't that shifting the same problem to another zip code so that the next president faces the exact same problem of indefinite detention of
detainees with no clear sign of avoiding what has become what he white house says is the arena for terrorists? mr. earnest: you raised several important questions. the first thing as the president referenced in his statement in the roosevelt room is there are hardened, dangerous terrorists who right now, even as we speak, dozens of them, who are serving time in american prisons on american soil, right now. that doesn't make the united states more vulnerable. it makes us safer. they have gone through a criminal justice process where they have been convicted and serving time and they are being held where they cannot pose a threat to the american people. reporter: in terms of the evidence and the trial and that is one of the problems along these many years with closing a facility and how do you get around all that?
mr. earnest: there are a group of people that it doesn't apply. one form of justice will allow the justice to be served. what's also true there is a process that was put in place on january 22, 2009 that initiated a formal review of the files of these individuals who are detained to determine how and where they could be safely transferred and we are going to continue to implement that process to determine if there are more individuals based on updated intelligence assessments and updated conversations with our partners could be transferred somewhere else in a way that is consistent with our national security interests. i wouldn't rule out that more people from the group of 46 or 56 here that we have here, that they could be moved into the cat engineer of eligible for transfer and that is a testament to the success of the process that the administration put in
place on the president's second full day in office. but look, the final thing is the option is, the other option that right now, congress is nudging us in a direction of, is one that only serves to exacerbate our national security vulnerabilities and allows extremist organizations to continue to use the operation of the prison at guantanamo bay as a recruiting tool. we know they do that and why we give them that weapon to use against us is beyond me. the dollars and cents here just don't add up to a logical republican congressional strategy. there are democrats who are complicit in this, too. members of congress are suggesting that we continue to operate the prison at guantanamo bay after we have transferred all those individuals eligible
for transfer doesn't add up. the per inmate cost is only going to continue to skyrocket and when you look at the longer term cost implications, even in the short-term it doesn't make sense. in short-term we could recoupe the costs in three to five years but be in a situation where we are saving taxpayers 85 million each year by moving these individuals to u.s. soil. over the long-term, the cost savings are even more significant. when you consider the dollars here and fiscal conservative and making sure that government is smaller and taxpayer dollars are efficiently used, that we are looking to cut wasteful spending, $85 million a year, that seems like a pretty sizeable amount. reporter: follow up on another.
this plan indiscernible] 30 to 60 individuals and saving $85 million, hundreds of millions, over $200 million for 30 to 60 individuals and i'm wondering if the president is comfortable with. it costs several million dal arizona. is that something the president is comfortable with? try to hunker down more and is that the reason? mr. earnest: i think what is true, once we have the opportunity to take a closer look more specifically at the way that a u.s. facility could be used, i wouldn't rule out there would be additional cost savings. congress needs to work with us to see if that is even possible.
i guess in the same way that it costs money to run prisons in the united states, it's going to cost money to detain these individuals even if we bring them to the united states. at least in some cases it's not an option. shouldn't we find a cost effective way to do it. isn't irresponsible to suggest we should $85 million a year to keep these individuals at guantanamo bay, that terrorists use a recruiting tool. it's not the best way to look out for our national security or a good way to be a taxpayer of the tax pairs' dollar. people who are strong on national security and fiscal conservatives and people willing to listen to the advice of our military commanders, like a republican trying to make a foreign policy decision.
so let's start living up to our rhetoric and do the right thing for the american people. reporter: call for the administration to put out a specific name of a facility or facilities. the law kinds of restrict but doesn't restrict names of facilities you are looking at. down. arrow it i'm wondering why the ministration didn't -- [indiscernible] >> mr. earnest: prototype facilities to look at how this would be done. but we are prohibited by law from developing the kind of specifics and details around a
specific facility. so, look, this is exactly part of what congressional engagement should be. we should have a discussion about where this facility will be located. if they have strong ideas about what would be a good place. we are happy to have that discussion and take a close look whether that would meet our requirements and bring about the kind of tax savings we would envision. we would welcome that discussion, but right now congress has passed a law that prevents us from taking place. what it means to do your job. reporter: one more on apple and f.b.i. there have been several district attorneys who said they are also looking to get a back door into phones and if this case does go forward and apple does comply,
they have several phones. you made it sound like it is going to be this one. is there a threat that other district attorneys across the country will be able to use this case as a way to get sbee phones or other types of cases that are not terrorist related? mr. earnest: i'm not aware of other cases that may be out there. if they have cases comparable to this make their own case. i have been asked about this very specific request ta the department of justice and independent investigators have made to a judge. they haven't south to do it on their own to obtain access to a phone that was used by a terrorist that is no longer living that was actually in the property and owned by the local government in california. so i have limited my comments to this specific request. i can't speak to other requests
that may be out there. if there are additional requests that have to be made, they have to go before a judge. and it's the case we have been making. i have not stood up here and suggest that the f.b.i. should be able to decide whether or not they get access. and it shouldn't be apple who decides to get access. there is a court of law and procedure in place to determine and to weigh the merits of the arguments that are made by both side. the judge has come down on the independent investigators at the department of justice and given the way the president has made this investigation a priority because information that was yielded in the investigation could be relevant to protect the american people, that's why we are hopeful that the f.b.i. will continue to do its important work. reporter: is it your understanding that the n.s.a. is
collecting? why wouldn't the f.b.i. go to them to get the information they claim they need from this particular device. mr. earnest: congress passed legislation to reform this program to ensure that the intelligence community would no longer be in the business of collecting that bulk metadata that was included in section 215 of the patriot act. reporter: no selection to your understanding of bulk phone records? mr. earnest: based on the law that was passed by congress last year with bipartisan support, it made critical reforms that put telephone companies in a position to collect that data and with a court order, law enforcement officials could conduct the kind of searches
that are critical to our national security. but it would not be a situation where the u.s. government was in a position of holding that data ourselves. reporter: i was asking you about and broader question about detainees. nsidering there is ongoing theaters all over the globe involving terrorists, where are they being held? mr. earnest: there is a process for this and again, we don't have to envision in our mind how this might work. we have time and time again demonstrated when it comes to terrorists who are apprehended in the united states, we have a process in place where we can make sure they are subject to robust interrogation and can use that information to enhance our national security, that we can get the information we need out of them to make sure to keep the american people safe and turn them over to law enforcement
interrogators to put them through the justice system and many of them are actually serving time right now on american soil in american prison facilities no longer posing a threat to our national security. we have a system in place that works that keeps the american people safe and lives up to our values. reporter: what about the ones captured on the battlefield. they are not being transported back here. where are they held? since we are engaged in an ongoing battle that may be apprehended on the battlefield, they have to be held somewhere. if they are going to be detained and the argument that some are making a facility like guantanamo is going to be important moving forward even beyond the 91 current detainees. mr. earnest: that's wrong and over the last seven years we waged a counterterrorism campaign around the world and
that has been in iraq, syria, afghanistan and that's been in a variety of other countries. not one prisoner has been transferred or added to the population at guantanamo bay since president obama has taken office. we are on a case by case basis evaluating the best way to bring these individuals to justice or at least make sure they cannot pose a threat to national security. let me give you one example. there is the woman who was the wife of the isil leader that was killed in a raid conducted by u.s. forces in syria, this was last year. and this woman was facing very serious charges related to isil's hostage taking activities. that individual has faced a couple of things. that individual is in the custody of kurdish officials and going through the kurdish criminal justice system and has
been indicted by the u.s. department system for hostage taking activities. given her terrorist back gound and she is in custody and no longer a threat to u.s. national security. that is that's how we can make sure we take actions that put the safety and security of the american people at the top of the list, but also make sure that we're acting consistent with our values. that's exactly what we've done. reporter: so essentially what you're saying is because these facilities exist, would it not then be possible to take some of the detainees that are currently housed at guantanamo and move them to some of these other facilities? ultimately emptying out the prison in cuba? mr. earnest: what we would have to do is evaluate the security measures in place at those other facilities and get the agreement -- reporter: -- [inaudible] -- if they're housing terrorists -- mr. earnest: first of all, we're talking in some cases about terrorists.