Evidence of bipartisan solutions

First Posted: 10/31/2013

Partisan gridlock and drama. Aren’t you tired of it?

Me too.

As your representative, it’s a priority of mine to build relationships across the aisle and find bipartisan solutions to the problems facing us. This past week, we made good progress. The Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act (H.R. 2719), a bill I wrote and have been working on since my first days in office. The House also passed the bipartisan Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act (H.R. 992), a bill that I introduced to protect our small businesses, farmers, manufacturers and consumers.

The Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act introduces transparency within TSA while keeping travelers safe and protecting taxpayer dollars. While I’m proud of the important reforms in the bill, I am particularly pleased by the bipartisan support it received. It may not be the flashiest bill in Washington, but it’s an example of how to get things done — finding common ground and moving forward to accomplish shared goals.

For too long, TSA has failed to meet security performance objectives and has wasted valuable resources through its broken acquisition process. From body-scanners lacking privacy filters to nearly $200 million worth of screening equipment sitting idle in warehouses, it is clear that TSA’s acquisition process needs reform. It threatens the security of passengers, burdens travelers, and ultimately abuses taxpayer dollars. Just this past week, we were reminded that TSA personnel put their lives on the line every day to keep passengers safe. We should not and cannot let acquisition mismanagement get in the way of their efforts to protect our travelers. This agency has room for improvement, and the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act offers substantial reform.

The bill lifts the veil on a guarded, inefficient acquisition process by requiring TSA to implement best practices and improve transparency with regard to technology acquisition programs. Simply put, this bill requires TSA to do a better job of managing its own resources and leveraging new resources. Specifically, it requires TSA to:

— Develop and share with the public, for the first time, a strategic, multiyear technology investment plan,

— Share key information with Congress on technology acquisitions, including cost overruns, delays, or technical failures within 30 days of identifying the problem,

— Establish principles for managing equipment in inventory to eliminate expensive storage of unusable or outdated technologies, and

— Report on its goals for contracting with small businesses.

Over the last few years, the House Homeland Security Committee has conducted seven hearings on TSA acquisition challenges and consulted with key stakeholders to identify opportunities for reform. Recommendations from across government and industry have been considered and incorporated into this vital piece of legislation. I believe that consultation with all stakeholders is crucial to developing effective policy. I am pleased with the tremendous support this bill received in Committee, and I look forward to bringing it to the House floor where I anticipate the full chamber’s support.

In addition to the excitement of the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act, I was very pleased that my first bill successfully passed the House this past week. The Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act (H.R. 992) amends a faulty provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that has harmed our consumers and hindered economic growth. My bill specifically reforms Section 716, which was mischaracterized as a provision to prevent risky swaps activities in the banks. Section 716 does not prevent the risk that its authors intended and will cause many American financial institutions to operate at a significant disadvantage to their foreign competitors, burdening our small businesses and stifling economic growth. My bill offers vital relief, cuts onerous red tape, and alleviates unnecessary regulations.

Both the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act and the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act demonstrate that Democrats and Republicans can work together, and I’m proud of the progress we are making on such important issues.

Richard Hudson is the U.S. representative for the 8th District, which includes most of Robeson County.