Rep. Crawford’s Legislation to Create Office of Bombing Prevention Passes House

May 18, 2022
Press
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Robertson (Sara.Robertson2@mail.house.gov)

Rep. Crawford’s Legislation to Create Office of Bombing Prevention Passes House

5/18/2022

Washington  Last night, the Bombing Prevention Act of 2022 passed the House 388-26. The legislation was introduced by Representative Rick Crawford (AR-01), a second generation bomb technician alongside Rep. Malinowski (NJ-07). H.R. 6873 would establish the Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) within the Department of Homeland Security to address terrorist explosive threats. 

By providing OBP with statuary authority, the office would be able to:

  • Provide critical training, guidance, assessments, and planning assistance to Federal, State, local, private sector, and other entities who are on the front lines facing these threats on a daily basis. 
  • Facilitate counter explosives information sharing and incident support and support security of explosives and explosive precursor chemicals outside of regulatory control.
  • Coordinate the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to counter the use of explosives and explosive devices while providing oversight of the Department’s efforts, including preparedness, funding and operational requirements, for explosives threats.

The passage of this legislation comes at a time when explosive threats and political violence are on the rise. In fact, the U.S. saw a 71 percent increase in domestic bombings in 2020, with over 15,000 total explosive-related threats and incidents per year, most of which at the hands of terrorist activity. 

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Rep. Crawford’s prepared remarks are below.

I rise today in support of H.R. 6873, the Bombing Prevention Act of 2022.

I am thrilled to see this bill come to the House floor for consideration. As a former Army EOD Technician, I know how critical it is for our military to be adequately equipped on the front lines to dispose of explosive threats. This is all the more true on our home front, where the public safety continues to be threatened by domestic terrorists and other bad actors, who consistently use bombs and explosive hazards to advance their agenda.

But it should not take a tragedy to enact sensible change and to continue to equip our homeland security officials with the tools they need to mitigate bombing incidents and to protect the critical infrastructure of our nation, and the lives of our citizens.

The Office for Bombing Prevention, or OBP, was created in response to terrorism events, both at home and abroad, including the bombing events of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, the World Trade Center in 1993, Oklahoma City in 1995, a Madrid train in 2004, London in 2005, the Boston Marathon in 2013, and Nashville on Christmas Day in 2020.

OBP leads the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to implement the National Policy for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices and enhances the nation’s ability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the use of explosives against critical infrastructure, the private sector, and federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities.

Currently, the Office for Bombing Prevention sits underneath the jurisdiction of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA. However, our recent history has proven that OBP needs a bit of a promotion in order to adequately inform the Secretary of Homeland Security of ongoing threats, and to keep the general public out of harm’s way.

I say recent history because unfortunately our nation has not been safe from threats, most of which thankfully never lead to serious injury, destruction, or death. The 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt, the IEDs left outside the RNC and DCCC on January 6, 2021, and over 50 reported bomb threats between January and February 2022, targeted disproportionately at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black churches, mosques, and synagogues. 

It is our responsibility as Members of Congress to lead and address these unacceptable threats, while simultaneously reducing the amount of threats designed to instill fear in the public. I applaud my colleagues for these events seriously and responding appropriately, and I have full confidence the Office for Bombing Prevention will have the tools necessary to carry out this mission.

Our bill authorizes OBP and directs the office to develop a strategy for further securing critical infrastructure against terrorist explosive threats and attacks, and to evaluate effective technologies to defend against them. Further, OBP will be required to promote security awareness of risks posed by the misuse of explosive precursor chemicals, bomb-making materials, providing technical assistance to the public and private sectors to support security and preparedness, assist other agencies with information sharing and responding to various threats, and working with relevant stakeholder interests in bettering this overall effort.

It has come to my attention that in response to the bomb threats at our HBCUs, the Office for Bombing Prevention led a briefing with 150 leaders on training opportunities and engaged with educational stakeholders about accessing OBP’s counter-IED capability development programs, information, training, and tools. This kind of responsiveness to a dire situation only strengthens my confidence that the men and women at OBP are ready and informed to respond to ongoing bomb threats and prevent further incidents and potential devastation.

We should be proud as Americans to feel a sense of security each and every day. Security and strength are what brings us together and the foundation for what we fight for. Unfortunately, we live with the reality that anyone can be a threat to this security and strength, even when we least expect it. From our grocery stores to our places of worship to our schools. We must continue to fight and ensure that Americans live free from fear of the malicious use of explosives and from the threat of a domestic terrorist’s agenda. Our citizens should feel and remain secure at their jobs, their schools, and most importantly, around their families. That is my mission as a Member of Congress, that will be the mission of the Office for Bombing Prevention, and that is why I support H.R. 6873.

I want to thank my co-lead, Representative Malinowski, as well as Representative Katko for his leadership on the Homeland Security Committee and for meeting with me to discuss my priorities for bombing prevention, from our Service Branches to the domestic front.

I encourage my colleagues to support this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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