Rep. Eric Swalwell: Cannot allow politics to affect our nation's security

January 16, 2015
In The News

As terrorist attacks escalate across the globe, including the most recent tragedy in Paris, Americans are rightly asking what the nation’s leaders are doing to keep them safe.

At the same time, however, House Republicans are moving closer to shutting down the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over an unrelated immigration fight with President Barack Obama.

While the GOP plays politics, our enemies are plotting and toiling to threaten America and murder our people.

Our enemies are so bold they even preview their plans. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) encouraged its followers in its magazine, Inspire, to strike back against Charlie Hebdo for perceived slights against the Prophet Muhammad. Twelve people died in the assault on the magazine.

Now AQAP, in its latest issue of Inspire, provides in painstaking detail, 30-plus pages of how to make an undetectable “Hidden Bomb” to detonate on an airplane. It is imperative we take this warning seriously. Ignoring it is a risk we cannot afford.

The world is an increasingly dangerous place. Terrorists groups and those they motivate are stepping up their attempts to impose their rigid ideology on people through violence.

With their murdering of journalists and beheading of innocent people, they have made it clear they will stop at nothing to achieve their aims.

After al-Qaida murdered nearly 3,000 men, women and children on Sept. 11, 2001, we created DHS to better protect Americans. The staff of DHS, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), works diligently every day to protect Americans and thwart groups like al-Qaida.

Those in public office have no higher responsibility than to keep our constituents safe. In fact, the preamble to the Constitution makes clear it was established for us to be able to “provide for the common defense.”

It thus follows that providing the funding and support DHS needs should be among the highest priorities of Congress.

Instead, as hard as it is to believe, congressional Republicans chose to put politics ahead of our security. Last December, they insisted on funding DHS only through the end of February, creating tremendous uncertainty.

Now they are trying to use the prospect of DHS running out of money and shutting down to try to force a change in President Obama’s immigration policy.

I support Obama’s executive actions on immigration; however, I understand many do not. While our nation should debate the issue of immigration, a bill to fund DHS and protect our national security is not the place.

Doing so, as congressional Republicans want, puts American lives at risk. No policy debate is worth that. Holding DHS funding hostage for ideological purposes is irresponsible and reckless.

The recent events in Paris are just another reminder that terrorists mean business — and their business is deadly. We must take our enemies at their word and now is the time to meet their threats with policies that keep Americans safe, not politics that jeopardize us all.

Rep. Eric Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and represents California’s 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.