OPINION: Michael McCaul Is The Leader Republicans Need on Foreign Affairs

Frank Cilluffo | Contributor

Now that the election is over and the Democrats have reclaimed the majority in the House, attention has been focused on who will command the gavel as the new chair of each committee. But whom will the Republicans select to be ranking member? For foreign affairs, the GOP should look to Michael McCaul of Texas.

I have known Michael McCaul since he first came to Capitol Hill many years ago. He has a strong command of international issues, a record of results as a legislator, and a foreign policy vision that projects strong American leadership on the world stage.

In February of this year, I moderated a discussion on national security topics at George Washington University between several members of Congress. Beforehand, McCaul delivered a “state of national security,” address. His remarks were substantive and comprehensive.

He highlighted both problems and solutions to the challenges we face with rising powers like China and Russia, rogue states like Iran and North Korea, the crisis in Syria, and our fight against Islamic terrorism.

As a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), McCaul has been engaged in global affairs since he was first elected to Congress in 2004.

This week the House passed a bill he authored to strengthen a key counterterrorism partnership in Africa. He also recently introduced legislation to sanction the Iranian regime for human rights abuses and hostage taking, and expand access to international markets for American businesses.

However, his greatest successes come from his tenure as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, which has passed 112 bills through the House over the last two years. That record led Politico to describe his committee as the “hardest working committee in Congress.”

That said, it’s not the number of bills that are most impressive. McCaul believes that Congress should use its responsibilities to push bold initiatives and achieve great goals.

As someone who served in the White House even before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created, I fully understand that we need leaders who can tackle urgent problems in the near term and anticipate future problems over the long-term. McCaul has demonstrated these skills by the way he’s confronted threats to America’s cybersecurity and many other issues.

Last Congress, McCaul led the effort to pass the Cybersecurity Act, legislation to facilitate information sharing between the federal government and the private sector. And just this week, the House passed a bill which will get to the President’s desk, that McCaul authored to create a standalone, operational agency to focus on cyber and infrastructure security at DHS.

Our enemies are becoming extremely tech savvy and McCaul understands that we need to stay one step ahead at home and abroad.

Perhaps his most noteworthy legislative accomplishment however, was the passage of the first ever, comprehensive reauthorization of DHS. This landmark bill helps provide DHS with guidance towards its mission of better safeguarding the homeland, streamlines redundant programs, and protects taxpayer dollars.

More than anything, this effort demonstrates that McCaul can accomplish what others failed to achieve.

Passing a reauthorization of the State Department and elevating the cybersecurity mission at Foggy Bottom need to be priorities of the next Congress. Implementing the Administration’s cyber deterrence strategy to hold countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran to account and impose consequences for their aggressive cyber behavior are long overdue. McCaul has the background to get these things done.

Finally, Michael McCaul will provide great balance by empowering Secretary Mike Pompeo’s national security and diplomatic agenda while serving as a true statesman who knows how to work across the aisle.

Over the last two years, McCaul has also led a bicameral and bipartisan “Capitol Hill National Security Forum” that brought foreign policy experts from current and past administrations, as well as congressmen, senators, and think-tank representatives to debate and discuss the most pressing national security issues facing the United States.

He is a proud party conservative who understands that partisanship must end at the water’s edge. His strong bipartisan accomplishments and his relationship with Congressman Eliot Engel, who will likely be the next HFAC chairman, will truly benefit the American people.

In January, the power structure in the House will change when the 116th Congress officially begins. Republicans don’t need to panic, but they do need adroit leaders to get the job done. National security matters, more than any other issues the country faces, cannot fall victim to political drama. The stakes are simply too high.

With McCaul, they have a battle-tested congressional veteran who will hit the ground running from day one. He is the leader the House GOP needs on foreign affairs.

Frank Cilluffo is the director of the Charles D. McCrary Institute for Cyber & Critical Infrastructure Security at Auburn University. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Cilluffo was appointed by President George W. Bush to the newly-created White House Office of Homeland Security. There, he was involved in a wide range of homeland security and counterterrorism strategies and policy initiatives.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views of Auburn University or any other organization the author is affiliated with.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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