Public Safety & Homeland Security

As a former Alameda County prosecutor, I know first-hand how dangerous our communities can be and the importance of keeping Americans safe. I spent seven years fighting to make sure that those who violated the law are punished, and I have now brought that spirit to Congress. The federal government should be both addressing regional and national crime issues and supporting state and local police and law enforcement with the resources they need to protect our streets.

I was an intern on Capitol Hill on September 11, 2001, and am mindful of the threats we face here at home. It is also a key job of the federal government to protect our homeland from terrorism and be prepared to respond in the unlikely event of an attack. As a member of the Intelligence, Judiciary, and Homeland Security committees, I believe protecting Americans is Congress’ most solemn duty.

What I am Doing for You

I introduced H.R. 4491, the National Security Council Modernization Act of 2021 to give the Secretary of Health and Human Services, whose department oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other disease surveillance agencies, a seat on the NSC. This would ensure that emerging public health threats are evaluated as potential national security threats, and would provide a readily-available forum for the Secretary to share information on such diseases with national security oriented departments such as the Department of Defense. The bill also strengthens the NSC by permanently seating the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence, and by allowing only Senate-confirmed officers of the United States to serve as full members – thus limiting the president’s ability to politicize the NSC.

I introduced H.R. 4492, the Biosecurity Information Optimization for Defense (BIO Defense) Act of 2021 to improve the National Biodefence Strategy, a bipartisan plan enacted in 2016 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, by formalizing a National Biodefense Directorate including the Vice President and department secretaries. This entity would be required to meet regularly, hire staff, and establish uniform data collection methods so it can continually update the NBS to address the national security risks posed by pandemics. Importantly, the bill would require the Directorate to develop a National Strategy Combating Biodefense Misinformation to make sure our federal government is prepared to get the best-available public health information to the American people quickly and effectively in times of crisis.
 
I introduced H.R. 5405, the Biological Intelligence Oversight Reporting (BIO Reporting) Act, which would ensure the Intelligence Community uses every available tool to protect the United States against future biological threats.
 

I introduced H.R. 5406, the Biological Intelligence Organization and Attribution (BIO Attribution) Act, which would help the United States government identify the origins of new diseases and make informed decisions about responding to emerging epidemics and pandemics.

I co-authored H.R. 3359, the bipartisan Homicide Victims' Families Rights Act, with Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. The bill would give relatives of homicide victims under federal law the right to have their loved one’s case file reviewed, once the case has gone cold after three years. If the federal investigator feels it would lead to probative leads, a full reinvestigation would then occur. The bill also would require the federal government to notify family members and similarly situated people of their rights, and to provide them with updates on any cold case review undertaken. It would also collect data on systemic problems with cold cases. We hope this legislation will motivate states to pass similar statutes.

I introduced H.R. 4857, the Journalist Protection Act, to make it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the course of reporting or in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering for a media organization. It represents a clear statement that assaults against people engaged in reporting is unacceptable, and helps ensure law enforcement is able to punish those who interfere with newsgathering.

I led 105 members in sending a May 2021 letter to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy demanding he meet with Metropolitan Police Department Office Michael Fanone. Officer Fanone bravely defended the United States Capitol on January 6 and suffered severe injuries. The letter was sent to McCarthy during National Police Week, a time to celebrate the heroism of our law enforcement officers and commemorate those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

I was an original cosponsor of, voted for, and the House passed H.R. 1085, a bipartsian bill to award three congressional gold medals to the United States Capitol Police and those who protected the U.S. Capitol against the violent insurrection of January 6, 2021.

I cosponsored and voted for, and the House passed, H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. This bill is a bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. The Justice in Policing Act would: 1) establish a national standard for the operation of police departments; 2) mandate data collection on police encounters; 3) reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and 4) streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1347, the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2021, to criminalize the chokehold and other strangulation tactics under federal civil rights law. The bill's language also is included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 3243, the Pipeline Security Act, a bipartisan bill to explicitly codify the roles of the Transportation Security Administration and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in securing critical infrastructure pipelines.

I cosponsored H.R. 350, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA) of 2021, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the federal government’s efforts to prevent, report on, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it. DTPA would authorize three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to provide Congress with joint biannual reports assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists. Based on the data collected, DTPA requires these offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats. DTPA also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation requires DOJ, FBI, and DHS to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Finally, DTPA directs DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement.

I cosponsored H.R.1834, the Hate Crimes Commission Act of 2021, to create a bipartisan commission to investigate and expand reporting on hate crimes throughout the United States. This commission would be comprised of a group of 12 members appointed by House and Senate leadership who would have one year to prepare a report on the rise in hate crimes, potential causes of increase, and how to combat it. 

I cosponsored H.R. 55, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, to make lynching a federal crime for the first time in American history.

I cosponsored H.R. 2119, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and increase funding for the Family Violence Prevention Services program, and to update the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

 

In earlier Congresses:

I was the lead Democratic House cosponsor of H.R. 510, the Rapid DNA Act of 2017, which President Trump signed into law in August 2017. This bipartisan law helps local law enforcement use new technology to speed up justice by letting police – under standards and guidelines established by the FBI – perform real-time DNA testing at the time of arrest within their own booking stations, comparing samples to profiles in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

I was the lead Democratic House cosponsor of H.R. 624, the Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, which President Trump signed into law in September 2017. This bipartisan law combats identity theft by limiting the use of Americans' Social Security Numbers on government documents sent through the mail.

I was an original cosponsor of H.R. 4854, the Justice Served Act of 2018, which President Trump signed into law in October 2018. This bipartisan law amended the Debbie Smith Act grant program – giving grants to state and local law enforcement to reduce their crime labs’ DNA backlogs – so some can be spent on prosecuting DNA-linked cold cases.

I led 84 House members in urging strong funding for the Transit Security Grant Program to help America’s mass transit agencies keep their riders safe and secure. (I led 66 members in a similar effort in the 114th Congress.)

 

                                                                                                                                                      

Rep. Swalwell tours Rapid DNA technology pioneer IntegenX in Pleasanton, September 2017.

 

I was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 4651, the Digital Security Commission Act of 2016. This bipartisan, bicameral bill would create the “National Commission on Security and Technology Challenges” – a digital security panel uniting stakeholders to keep our nation safe while keeping our personal data secure.

I convened a discussion on juvenile justice and how to break the cycle of poverty and crime in March 2016 at the Alameda County Juvenile Court and detention facility in San Leandro. 

I convened an interfaith roundtable meeting in July 2016 in Hayward to discuss the recent rash of gun violence  in our country.

Rep. Swalwell talks with Alameda County Sheriff's deputies during a National Night Out event in San Lorenzo, August 2016.

As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I organized and coordinated a letter signed by 132 additional Members of Congress to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), raising objections to its decision to allow certain small knives and sporting equipment in the cabins of planes. Ultimately, TSA reversed its policy and continues to prohibit knives on planes.

I introduced an amendment, which the House approved, to help protect mass transit systems like BART from terrorism. I also led letters to the Department of Homeland Security requesting BART receive federal grants to upgrade its Transbay Tube to protect against terrorism. BART was awarded a $17.4 million grant in 2014 and $12.8 million grant in 2013.

I signed a letter to the Appropriations Committee in support funding for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program and the Community Orientated Policy Services (COPS) program.

I voted for H.R. 756, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act. This bipartisan bill would strengthen cyber research, develop the federal cyber workforce, and improve the development of cyber standards.

I introduced H.R. 3438, the National Laboratories Mean National Security Act.  This bill would make it easier for national labs, like Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, to help states and localities secure us against terrorism.

                                                                                                                                           

Rep. Swalwell visits Alameda County Fire Station 25 in Castro Valley, July 2016.

More on Public Safety & Homeland Security

September 28, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced two bills to ensure the United States is better prepared to identify the origin of a future pandemic or biological threat and analyze intelligence about emerging threats.

July 29, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced legislation to better protect journalists and the free press who are essential to our democracy. The Journalist Protection Act would make intentionally harming a working journalist or intentionally harming a journalist with the intent of intimidating them from doing their job a federal crime.

July 16, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today introduced two bills to better prepare the federal government to treat pandemics like COVID-19 as national security threats.