DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES AUTHORIZATION ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 196
(House of Representatives - December 09, 2019)

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[Pages H9373-H9376]
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   DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL 
                      LIBERTIES AUTHORIZATION ACT

  Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 4713) to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to make 
certain improvements in the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 
of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes, as 
amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 4713

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Department of Homeland 
     Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 
     Authorization Act''.

     SEC. 2. OFFICER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES.

       (a) In General.--Section 705 of the Homeland Security Act 
     of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 345) is amended--
       (1) in the section heading, by striking ``establishment 
     of''; and
       (2) by striking subsections (a) and (b) and inserting the 
     following new subsections:
       ``(a) In General.--There is established within the 
     Department an Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. 
     The head of such Office is the Officer for Civil Rights and 
     Civil Liberties, who shall report directly to the Secretary.
       ``(b) Responsibilities.--The Officer for Civil Rights and 
     Civil Liberties shall carry out the following 
     responsibilities:
       ``(1) Oversee compliance with constitutional, statutory, 
     regulatory, policy, and other requirements relating to the 
     civil rights and civil liberties of individuals affected by 
     the programs and activities of the Department.
       ``(2) Integrate civil rights and civil liberties 
     protections into all programs and activities of the 
     Department.
       ``(3) Conduct civil rights and civil liberties impact 
     assessments, as appropriate, including prior to the 
     implementation of new Department regulations, initiatives, 
     programs, or policies.
       ``(4) Conduct periodic reviews of policies, procedures, and 
     activities of the Department relating to civil rights and 
     civil liberties.
       ``(5) Provide policy advice, recommendations, and other 
     technical assistance relating to civil rights and civil 
     liberties to the Secretary and to heads of components, 
     directorates, and offices and other personnel within the 
     Department.
       ``(6) Review, assess, and investigate complaints, including 
     complaints filed by members of the public, and information 
     indicating possible abuses of civil rights or civil liberties 
     at the Department, unless the Inspector General of the 
     Department determines that any such complaint should be 
     investigated by the Inspector General.
       ``(7) Initiate reviews, investigations, and assessments of 
     the administration of the programs and activities by the 
     Department relating to civil rights and civil liberties, as 
     the Officer determines necessary.
       ``(8) Coordinate with the Privacy Officer to ensure that--
       ``(A) programs, policies, and procedures involving civil 
     rights, civil liberties, and privacy considerations are 
     addressed in an integrated and comprehensive manner; and
       ``(B) Congress receives appropriate reports regarding such 
     programs, policies, and procedures.
       ``(9) Lead the equal employment opportunity programs of the 
     Department, including complaint management and adjudication, 
     workforce diversity, and promotion of the merit system 
     principles.
       ``(10) Make publicly available through accessible 
     communications channels, including the website of the 
     Department--
       ``(A) information on the responsibilities and functions of, 
     and how to contact, the Office; and
       ``(B) summary of reports of investigations that result in 
     final recommendations that are issued by the Officer upon 
     completion of investigations carried out pursuant to 
     paragraph (6); and
       ``(C) summaries of impact assessments issued by the Officer 
     and carried out pursuant to paragraph (3) or (7).
       ``(11) Engage with individuals and communities whose civil 
     rights and civil liberties may be affected by programs and 
     activities of the Department, including by informing such 
     individuals and communities about report and redress 
     processes and advising the Secretary and heads of components, 
     directorates, offices, and other personnel within the 
     Department of concerns raised by such individuals and 
     communities.
       ``(c) Coordination With Inspector General.--
       ``(1) Authority to investigate possible abuses.--The 
     Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties may investigate 
     any matter referred to in paragraph (6) or (7) of subsection 
     (b) after fulfilling the coordination requirements under 
     paragraph (2) with respect to such matter.
       ``(2) Coordination requirements.--
       ``(A) Referral of matters to inspector general.--Before 
     initiating any investigation described under paragraph (1), 
     the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shall refer 
     the matter and all related complaints to the Inspector 
     General of the Department.
       ``(B) Inspector general responsibilities.--

[[Page H9374]]

       ``(i) Determination and notification.--Not later than 5 
     business days after the receipt of a matter referred under 
     subparagraph (A), the Inspector General shall--

       ``(I) make a determination regarding whether the Inspector 
     General intends to initiate an audit or investigation of the 
     matter referred under subparagraph (A); and
       ``(II) notify the Officer of such determination.

       ``(ii) Audits and investigations.--If the Inspector General 
     notifies the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 
     that the Inspector General intends to initiate an audit or 
     investigation, the Inspector General shall--

       ``(I) initiate such audit or investigate by not later than 
     90 days after providing such notification; or
       ``(II) not later than three days after the end of the 90-
     day period specified in subclause (I), notify the Officer 
     that such audit or investigation was not initiated.

       ``(C) Provision of assistance.--At the request of the 
     Inspector General, the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil 
     Liberties may provide assistance to the Inspector General on 
     any investigation or audit initiated by the Inspector General 
     based on a referral under subparagraph (A).
       ``(D) Investigation by officer.--The Officer for Civil 
     Rights and Civil Liberties may investigate a matter referred 
     to the Inspector General under subparagraph (A) only if--
       ``(i) the Inspector General notifies the Officer for Civil 
     Rights and Civil Liberties that the Inspector General does 
     not intend to initiate an audit or investigation relating to 
     that matter; or
       ``(ii) the Inspector General provides notification under 
     subparagraph (B)(ii)(II) that an audit or investigation was 
     not initiated.
       ``(d) Transparency.--
       ``(1) Complaints.--In the case of a complaint made 
     concerning allegations of abuses of civil rights and civil 
     liberties under paragraph (6) of subsection (b), the Officer 
     for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shall--
       ``(A) provide to the individual who made the complaint 
     notice of the receipt of such complaint within 30 days of 
     receiving the complaint; and
       ``(B) inform the complainant of the determination of the 
     Officer regarding the initiation of a review, assessment, or 
     investigation within the Office, a referral to the Inspector 
     General of the Department, or any other action taken.
       ``(2) Investigations.--In the case of an investigation 
     initiated by the Officer pursuant to paragraph (6) or (7) of 
     subsection (b), upon the conclusion of the investigation, the 
     Officer shall produce a report on the investigation which--
       ``(A) shall include the findings and recommendations of the 
     Officer;
       ``(B) a summary of which shall be made publicly available;
       ``(C) shall not include any personally identifiable 
     information related to any individual involved in such 
     investigation; and
       ``(D) may include a classified appendix, as the Officer 
     determines appropriate.
       ``(3) Submittal to heads of operational components.--The 
     Officer shall transmit a copy of each report produced under 
     paragraph (2) to the Secretary and to the relevant head of 
     each relevant operational component of the Department.
       ``(4) Reports to congress.--Upon the conclusion of any 
     investigation conducted by the Officer for Civil Rights and 
     Civil Liberties under paragraph (6) or (7) of subsection (b), 
     the Officer shall submit to Congress a report on the 
     investigation, which shall be prepared and submitted without 
     any prior comment or amendment by the Secretary, Deputy 
     Secretary, or any other officer or employee of the 
     Department, unless the Officer seeks such comment.
       ``(e) Component Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer.--
     The head of each of the operational components of the 
     Department shall designate a career appointee (as such term 
     is defined in section 3132 of title 5, United States Code) 
     from such component as the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil 
     Liberties of that component. The Officer for Civil Rights and 
     Civil Liberties of each such component shall coordinate with 
     and provide information to the Officer for Civil Rights and 
     Civil Liberties of the Department on matters related to civil 
     rights and civil liberties within the components.
       ``(f) Access to Information.--The Officer for Civil Rights 
     and Civil Liberties of the Department--
       ``(1) shall have access to all records, reports, audits, 
     reviews, documents, papers, recommendations, and other 
     materials available to the Department that relate to programs 
     and operations with respect to the responsibilities of the 
     Officer under subsection (b); and
       ``(2) may, to the extent the Officer determines necessary, 
     and subject to the approval of the Secretary--
       ``(A) issue a subpoena to require the production, by any 
     person other than a Federal agency, of all information, 
     documents, reports, answers, records, accounts, papers, and 
     other documentary evidence necessary in the performance of 
     the responsibilities of the Officer under this section; and
       ``(B) administer to or take from any person an oath, 
     affirmation, or affidavit, whenever necessary in the 
     performance of the responsibilities of the Officer under this 
     section.
       ``(g) Annual Report.--Not later than March 31 of each year, 
     the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the 
     Department shall submit directly to the President, the 
     President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of 
     Representatives, and the appropriate committees and 
     subcommittees of Congress, a report on the implementation of 
     this section during the year preceding the year during which 
     the report is submitted. Each such report shall include, for 
     the year covered by the report--
       ``(1) any allegations of abuse described under subsection 
     (b)(6) and any actions by the Department or a component, 
     directorate, or office of the Department that the Officer 
     identifies as responsive to such allegations;
       ``(2) a list of Department programs and activities for 
     which civil rights and civil liberties impact assessments 
     were conducted, or policy advice, recommendations, or other 
     technical assistance was provided;
       ``(3) any recommendations issued by the Officer to the 
     Secretary or the head of a component, directorate, or office, 
     together with information on the status of the implementation 
     of such recommendations;
       ``(4) information on the diversity and equal employment 
     opportunity activities of the Department, including 
     information on complaint management and adjudication of equal 
     employment opportunity complaints and efforts to ensure 
     compliance throughout the Department with equal employment 
     opportunity requirements;
       ``(5) a description of any efforts to engage with 
     individuals and communities whose civil rights and civil 
     liberties may be affected by activities carried out by the 
     Department, including public meetings; and
       ``(6) information on total staffing for the Office of Civil 
     Rights and Civil Liberties, including--
       ``(A) the number of full-time, part-time and contract 
     support personnel; and
       ``(B) information on the number of employees whose primary 
     responsibilities include supporting the Officer in carrying 
     out paragraph (9) of subsection (b).''.
       (b) Clerical Amendment.--The item relating to section 705 
     in section 1(b) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 is 
     amended to read as follows:

     ``SEC. 705. OFFICER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES.''.

     SEC. 3. COMPTROLLER GENERAL REVIEW.

       Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of 
     this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall 
     submit to Congress a report on subsection (b)(11) of section 
     705 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 345), as 
     amended by section 2.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Ms. Slotkin) and the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Higgins) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Michigan.


                             General Leave

  Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous material on this measure.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Michigan?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4713, the 
Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil 
Liberties Authorization Act.
  The Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil 
Liberties, which I will call CRCL, is the primary office responsible 
for integrating civil rights and civil liberties protections into DHS 
policies, programs, and procedures.
  Every day, DHS personnel interact with millions of people from across 
the country and around the world. For this reason, it is imperative 
that the Department's CRCL officer has the authority to ensure that DHS 
pursues policies and programs that are in line with constitutionally 
protected civil rights and civil liberties.
  Under current law, the CRCL officer is authorized to assist the 
leaders throughout the Department in appropriately incorporating civil 
rights and civil liberties in DHS policies and procedures. However, 
there have been instances where CRCL was not afforded the opportunity 
to weigh in on DHS programs and policies that clearly impact 
individuals' and communities' civil rights and civil liberties.
  For example, it has been reported that CRCL was not consulted when 
the Trump administration instituted the family separation policy at the 
southern border. It has also been reported that the Office was not 
consulted prior to the January 2017 travel ban that barred individuals 
from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
  The bill before us today seeks to ensure that CRCL has a seat at the 
table

[[Page H9375]]

when new programs and policies are being considered within DHS.
  H.R. 4713, which was introduced by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Green), promotes the involvement of CRCL early in the policymaking 
process and ensures the Office is empowered, when necessary, to prevent 
DHS from pursuing policies that violate individuals' civil rights and 
civil liberties.
  To strengthen the integration of civil rights and civil liberties 
across the Department, H.R. 4713 requires the designation of CRCL 
officers within each DHS component.
  Additionally, H.R. 4713 would confer the CRCL officer the same 
authorities that currently rest with the DHS privacy officer to carry 
out its responsibilities.
  For instance, today, DHS components are not required to provide 
information to the CRCL officer that may be needed for a civil 
liberties investigation. Under H.R. 4713, the CRCL officer would have 
the authority to access all Department records necessary to carry out 
its work, including investigations.
  The CRCL officer would also have the authority, with the support of 
the DHS Secretary, to subpoena non-Federal entities to acquire 
information, documents, reports, and other materials necessary to carry 
out CRCL investigations.
  Lastly, the bill would increase transparency and accountability 
within the Department. Specifically, H.R. 4713 makes CRCL more 
responsive and accessible to members of the public who file complaints 
by requiring the Office to provide individuals with notices of receipt 
within 30 days of a complaint.
  The bill also requires CRCL to make publicly available its reports 
and reviews of Department programs and submit those reports to 
Congress.
  We know that the CRCL does important work and that caseload is 
growing. This year alone, the Office reviewed DHS policies relating to 
the humanitarian crisis at the border, disaster assistance, and a 
Departmentwide antiharassment policy, just to name a few items.
  Given Congress' strong interest in the work of the Department's CRCL 
officer, it is troubling that the last annual report that we have 
received here in Congress was for fiscal year 2017. Increased public 
reporting will allow us to work together to improve accountability of 
the Department.
  I appreciate that the Committee on Homeland Security came together on 
a bipartisan basis to support this measure, and I urge my colleagues to 
do the same.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1645

  Mr. HIGGINS of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  I rise today in support of H.R. 4713, the Department of Homeland 
Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Authorization Act.
  Mr. Speaker, this legislation will give the Department of Homeland 
Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties more tools to 
conduct its investigations.
  The bill does not significantly broaden the authority of CRCL; it is 
intended to grant CRCL the authorities necessary to conduct meaningful 
inquiries into allegations of abuse of civil rights and civil liberties 
within DHS.
  The bill specifically outlines mechanisms to ensure that there is 
coordination with other entities at DHS who conduct investigations of 
violations of civil rights. DHS already has numerous officers engaged 
in investigating such violations, and we want to ensure that the new 
authority granted to CRCL is not used to engage in duplicative 
activities or investigations.
  H.R. 4713 also grants CRCL access to DHS documents on programs and 
operations, provides it with subpoena powers and the authority to 
administer an oath or take an affidavit. These authorities should be 
exercised only in the rarest of the circumstances and only after 
approval by the Secretary.
  DHS and its components should view cooperation with CRCL as standard 
operating procedure and provide relevant documents when requested. 
However, in utilizing the authority provided, CRCL must also respect 
generally accepted exceptions to document production.
  Finally, the bill requires the issuance of a report after an 
investigation. Although not required, I expect CRCL to seek the 
guidance of the Secretary and the components whenever possible during 
an investigation to ensure that it is conducted in a fair and equitable 
manner.
  We have made some changes to the bill at the request of DHS. To the 
extent that DHS continues to have concerns, I encourage the majority to 
work with the Department as this bill moves to the Senate to address 
outstanding issues.
  Mr. Speaker, I support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Green).
  Mr. GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding 
me the time and for her outstanding service as a member of this august 
body. I would also like to thank my friend from Louisiana, my home 
State, for his outstanding presentation as it relates to this piece of 
legislation.
  Seated next to the gentleman from Louisiana is our dear friend, who 
is cosponsoring this piece of legislation, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Speaker, I 
thank Mr. Taylor for all that he has done to bring this to fruition. 
And, of course, we could not do this without saying a word about the 
chairperson of the full committee, Mr. Thompson. I want to thank Mr. 
Thompson for not only bringing this legislation to my attention but, 
also, allowing it to get to the floor, such that we might have this 
opportunity for passage.
  I would like to address immediately the concern that my friend raised 
about this piece of legislation not being perfect, and I confess that 
it isn't. I do think it is good legislation, but I want to allay any 
consternation that Members may have.
  Mr. Speaker, I have already spoken to staff, and I have agreed that 
we should be flexible in trying to work to make sure that what we 
present to the Senate and what we ultimately get from the Senate will 
be something that we can all agree to. Just as we have been able to 
bring this to the floor with bipartisan support, I would like to see 
bicameral support and continue this bipartisan relationship. I think it 
is an imperative for us if we are going to do this in an effective way.
  One thing to talk about very briefly, of course, is the subpoena 
power. I think this is a thing that some people are afraid might 
somehow be abused. I am concerned. I believe that this type of 
authority should be handled with the greatest degree of sensitivity.
  Mr. Speaker, we pledge to you to do all that we can to make sure 
that, as we move forward, that level of sensitivity is something that 
we embrace in a holistic way so that all parties concerned will 
ultimately conclude that we have come up with the perfect formula to 
get this to the President for his signature.
  I would like to say this, finally: This piece of legislation is 
something that I think is sorely needed. What it does is it will confer 
upon the CRCL officer the same authorities granted to DHS privacy 
officers. That same level of authority is something that I believe 
would be of great benefit to the Department and to the people that the 
Department will embrace by way of their services.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank all of my friends and colleagues, and I am going 
to be as pithy as I can be and simply say ``amen'' to what has been 
said.
  Mr. HIGGINS of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Taylor), my friend.
  Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Texas' Ninth 
District for his work on this piece of legislation.
  I rise in support of H.R. 4713, the Department of Homeland Security 
Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Authorization Act.
  Every day millions of Americans interact with officials and 
representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, most frequently 
at airports across this country. In fact, the Transportation Security 
Administration screens approximately 2.2 million passengers every 
single day. Last year, TSA screened over 813 million individuals.
  With more than 240,000 dedicated DHS employees working hard every 
single day--and I mean every single

[[Page H9376]]

day; they do not take a day off, the Department of Homeland Security--
they are keeping our Nation safe. While there is no doubt that this is 
a massive undertaking, we must also work to ensure the civil rights and 
liberties of every single American are upheld by the Department of 
Homeland Security.

  H.R. 4713, the bill before us today, safeguards the civil rights of 
Americans by increasing accountability and transparency. Just as the 
dedicated men and women who work to protect our homeland, ensuring the 
constitutional rights of all Americans are protected is critically 
important for us to maintain a free society.
  Increasing transparency and accountability is not a partisan issue, 
and I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of H.R. 4713.
  Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, I have no more speakers, and I am prepared 
to close.
  Mr. HIGGINS of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to close. I urge 
adoption of the bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. SLOTKIN. Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not also take 
just a half a second to urge the Department of Homeland Security, in 
crafting their budget request for next cycle, to provide adequate 
resources for the CRCL to ensure that the office can do its work.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge the rest of my colleagues to join by passing H.R. 
4713, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Ms. Slotkin) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 4713, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________