US lawmakers worry about weapons of mass destruction

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — U.S. lawmakers are worried the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is not prepared to deal with a bad actor with weapons of mass destruction.

“It does not take a lot of imagination to envision the damage that a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear attack could do to our country,” Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) said.

Demings says the office inside DHS — Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office — that is supposed to focus on these weapons appears to have problems.

“Numerous governmental and non-governmental reports indicate that there are significant structural and workforce morale issues within CWMD,” Demings said.

Demings and other lawmakers are asking DHS to fix the problems as soon as possible.

“It is imperative that we stand ready to counter these types of threats,” Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) said.

Cammack says the country depends on DHS and its employees.

“A dedicated and motivated workforce is so important for the success of this office and these programs that maintain our nation’s readiness to detect, deter and thwart a terrorist attack,” Cammack said.

CWMD assistant secretary Gary Rasicot acknowledges issues in the office.

“We have made notable progress in strengthening our programs with invaluable input from our colleagues in Congress, the government accountability office, and the office of the inspector general,” Rasicot said.

Rasicot says CWMD will also continue to strengthen biodefense programs, bio-surveillance to monitor COVID-19, and improve employee morale.

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