In this Dec. 8, 2015 file photo, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks with a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington. Approaching elections in two House Republican strongholds illustrate the sharp elbows and vigilance that GOP candidates require in this anti-establishment time.

J. Scott Applewhite | AP Photo

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The more the American people learn about House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s, R-Calif. (F, 40%) so called “Homeland Safety and Security Act,” the more there is to dislike about the bill.

First and foremost, the bill accepts the Democratic talking point that gun control is needed to stop terrorism. I wrote a piece titled “Paul Ryan Caving on Gun Vote is Exactly Why We Lose” to make the case that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (F-55%) was promoting bad politics and bad policy by allowing a vote on more gun control.

Heritage Action for America has found another reason why this bill is moving in the wrong direction. The bill is growing government Obama-style.

This bill puts into law the Obama administration’s controversial “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) program that was created by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson without Congressional approval. An action alert by Heritage Action for America explains the problems with this part of the bill as follows:

The first section of the bill is the bulk of the legislation. Unfortunately, it further codifies a failed approach to fighting Islamic terrorism at DHS called “countering violent extremism” or CVE. While the bill attempts to swap out every mention of CVE with “radical Islamist terrorism” (as compared to earlier legislative proposals), H.R. 5611 is clearly CVE-under-another-name. It renames and formally authorizes the current Office for Community Partnerships at DHS, which is the driving office for their CVE policy, as the “Office for Partnerships to Prevent Terrorism (OPPT).” Then, it also creates a new, powerful executive branch position, the “Assistant Secretary of the Office for Community Partnerships,” tasked with coordinating with FEMA and the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties office of DHS to distribute grants.

Again, while the bill does not contain the phrase “countering violent extremism” (as past legislative versions have), the only term actually defined is “violent extremism.” As both
Heritage and Heritage Action have written, this is a failed strategy that House Republicans should reject and ensure is not made permanent within the agency.

Furthermore, there is no effective prohibition against funding groups like CAIR, and other unindicted co-conspirators from the Holy Land Trial, or other potential Muslim Brotherhood front groups, from receiving the grants or participating in the “community outreach.” The bill’s prohibition leaves it to the discretion of the new Assistant Secretary. The bill also authorizes at least $30 million in spending over five years on CVE activities, including partnerships with community groups and internet-engagement activities, such as online counter messaging campaigns that will not help keep our homeland safe.


If House Republicans do not trust Secretary Johnson, who as a poor track record of abusing the rule of law with respect to immigration, then they should have no confidence in his appointed Assistant Secretary, who would not even be confirmed by the Senate.

Expanding the power of the Department of Homeland Security as a panacea to make the American people think that the federal government is taking action to prevent terrorism would be to lie to the American people. This new bureaucrat will not protect America. This is an Obama administration idea that has been adopted by House Republican leadership.

When you consider a Republican gun control-lite proposal plus an Obama administration requested expansion of the Department of Homeland Security you have to conclude that this bill is terrible. Yet again, Republicans are crawling over glass to pass Democrat-lite proposals that will hurt them at the ballot box this fall.

This is a bad piece of legislation being pushed by Republicans and they should be shunned for promoting ideas that grow government, infringe on the Bill of Rights and are flat out dumb politics.

Editor's Note: Since this article was originally published, House Republican leaders have announced they would be postponing a vote on Rep. McCarthy's bill.

Brian Darling is a former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling.

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