With a focus on national security and aerospace, two of Representative Steve Knight’s bills are on their way to the Senate.
After nearly six months of congressional procedure, H.R. 3120, a bill authored by Knight, R-Palmdale, that aims to reform the federal security clearance system, has been placed on the Senate’s legislative calendar for a vote.
H.R. 3120, colloquially referred to as the “SECRET Act,” would attempt to reduce the backlog on federal security clearances.
Currently, employees hired in informationally sensitive areas of the federal government, particularly in the Department of Defense, are subject to a lengthy and cumbersome security clearance process that often take in excess of 18 months.
This backlog, Knight argues, contributes to a brain drain effect within the federal bureaucracy.
If talented engineers, diplomats, linguists and analysts are forced to wait 18 months for the clearance they need to begin their jobs and to earn their paychecks, proponents of the bill argue they will be easily enticed away by private enterprises within which they can begin work immediately.
Knight’s proposed legislation would attempt to reduce the security clearance wait duration by a significant amount.
“If we are to get the most talented minds working for national security and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” said Knight on Facebook, “we must fix this growing problem.”
Knight coauthored the bill alongside Gerald Connolly, D-VA, and introduced the legislation to the House on July 12, 2017.
The bill was subsequently referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which amended the proposal and reintroduced it to the House on July 25.
The House passed the bill the next day after roughly 40 minutes of debate and sent the legislation to the Senate – where sat in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs until late November.
H.R. 3120 is currently on the docket to be voted on by the Senate, which Knight hopes the body will do before they adjourn for the holidays next week.
“I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass it as soon as possible,” he said on Facebook.
Also, Knight’s bill known as the Women in Aerospace Education Act unanimously passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.
If the bill becomes law, Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grants will include aerospace engineering in their teacher training experience at the National Laboratories and NASA Centers.
These grants currently pay for students who go on to teach in rural or low-income school districts after getting a STEM degree.
Additionally, the bill directs NASA to promote internships and fellowships for women by shifting their marketing and recruiting strategies to encourage women to apply.
“For many years, the aerospace industry has been predominantly male, despite the fact that women have equally excelled in the STEM fields of study,” Knight said in a statement. “By actively engaging this half of the workforce to enter the industry, this bill will help ensure the lasting dominance of American air and space innovation.”