Late Friday evening, after only a few short hours of debate, Congress passed legislation creating a new Department of Homeland Security. The new department represents the biggest government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in the 1940s, and potentially the single biggest expansion of the federal government in our history. Over 175,000 federal employees will be part of the new DHS, and if history is any guide, it will take decades to get all of them working together even marginally. In fact, some estimate that the process of buying and leasing new offices, moving existing offices, and getting all of the new DHS personnel using the same computer and phone systems could take twenty years. So much for streamlining the intelligence gathering process.
Every American should know how quickly and thoughtlessly this massive new bureaucracy is being created. A special House committee made up of just a handful of members began writing the bill only one week before the vote. In that short time they managed to transform the Presidents 50 page proposal for consolidation of certain agencies into a 250 page spending spree filled with unnecessary provisions to satisfy scores of special interests. Most members did not see the final bill until Wednesday, nor did they see many of the 100+ amendments to the bill until Friday. The House debated the body of the bill itself late Thursday night for only two hours! This may serve the interests of members looking to highlight their "accomplishments" at election time, but the American people deserve far more serious consideration of possibly the most important legislation passed during their lifetimes. Without question, the new DHS will have a profound impact on the freedom, prosperity, and safety of every American and their grandchildren for decades to come.
I did vote for several amendments to the bill that would maintain the strength and independence of federal agencies that are vitally important to the 14th congressional district in Texas. However, I voted a resounding NO on final passage. This legislation will have an even greater negative impact than the terrible Patriot Act passed shortly after September 11th.