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Vote for Homeland Gavel Was Closest in Memory for Some Lawmakers

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo

His voice gruff from Texas cedar fever — a reaction to central Texas’ infamous pollen that he picked up when he spent the holiday at his family’s ranch in Blanco, between San Antonio and Austin — he said that Tuesday was probably not the best day to give the pivotal presentation to the Republican Steering Committee.

He said, however, that he made his case by emphasizing the four things he wants to focus on: terrorism, border security, cybersecurity and fixing the Homeland Security Department’s management structure.

In fact, McCaul is the sponsor of the DHS Accountability Act, which was debated on the floor Tuesday. It would create an independent panel to make recommendations about the Homeland Security Department’s capabilities. Shortly after the news about the chairmanship broke, McCaul was on the floor helping manage the bill.

He said he wants to move on the stalled cybersecurity bill and will start reaching out to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee leaders. He said the two chambers have been very separate in the 112th Congress, and he hopes to bring them together around this issue.

“Cybersecurity is going to be the biggest area where you’re going to see legislation coming out of the committee,” he said. “We need to work together to get it done because, ultimately, every day that we can’t get anything done, we’re putting American lives at risk.”

McCaul added that he plans to put a lot of pressure on the department to secure the Southern border, including pushing a plan to redeploy surveillance technology used in Afghanistan to the border as the war winds down. He also said he wants to focus on the threat of al-Qaida and Hezbollah influence in the Western Hemisphere.

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