Prompted by San Bernardino shooting, House bill requires terrorist reports to Congress

Sarah D. Wire
Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)
San Bernardino Sheriff's deputies draw guns during an active search for the suspects involved in the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif., on December 2, 2015. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)


WASHINGTON — Intelligence agencies would have to make recommendations to Congress on how to stop the next domestic terrorist attack under a bill inspired by the 2015 San Bernardino shooting.

The bill, which passed the House on Tuesday without opposition, requires the Homeland Security secretary to submit a report to Congress within one year of a terrorist attack in the U.S. The report, which would be unclassified, must include details of what happened, and recommendations for laws or policies can be changed to prevent a similar attack. It would also include input from the attorney general, FBI director and the head of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., who represents San Bernardino, filed the bill about a year after the Dec. 2, 2015 gun attack in which 14 people were killed and 22 were wounded by a married couple at the Inland Regional Center.

Aguilar told the Los Angeles Times individual members of Congress shouldn’t have to press agencies for details about what happened after an attack.

“By nature every terrorist event is unique, and so we need something to prod the agencies to tell us why it’s unique and what we can do better,” Aguilar said. “There is no current requirement for the agencies to submit a report to Congress after a terrorist event. We think that it makes sense to do that and that it will help us learn from these events and become smarter about it.”

After the San Bernardino attack, the Justice Department worked with the Police Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, to create a report, but it was aimed at training law enforcement on responding to an attack.

“We think there are more lessons to be learned, but that only happens when those agencies work with Congress on what we can change,” Aguilar said.

The bipartisan bill was backed by nine Californians: Reps. Ken Calvert, a Republican, Paul Cook, a Republican, Lou Correa, a Democrat, Nanette Barragan, a Democrat, David Valadao, a Republican, Jeff Denham, a Republican, Steve Knight, a Republican, Darrell Issa, a Republican and Duncan Hunter, a Republican.

Aguilar said he is still working to line up a sponsor for the bill in the Senate.