With Democrats planning to go after him in November, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., had a busy week on Capitol Hill.

Mast, who was first elected to Congress in 2016, scored a big win this week as the U.S. House Homeland Security passed his border security proposal without opposition.

Earlier in the month, Mast introduced the “Secure Border Communications Act” which, his office insists, will “strengthen interagency border security communication and communication within U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and “improves communication technology for officers and agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, ensuring that they are equipped with secure radios or other two-way communication devices.”

“We are in the midst of a war on terror and continue to be the target of radicals who want to do our country harm. Ensuring we know who is entering our country and why they are here is essential to national security,” Mast said earlier in the week when he showcased the legislation. “Beyond the threat of terrorism, securing our border is vitally important to preventing drug and human trafficking.  Improving communication is a critical component of this mission.”

The committee passed the legislation without opposition on Thursday morning. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the committee, is the only cosponsor of the bill.

That is not the only committee stop scheduled for Mast’s bill. It is also headed to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Mast also testified to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee about his bill to let members of Congress open offices inside Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities.

The Florida Republican, an Army veteran who had both his legs amputated after being wounded during his service in Afghanistan, opened an office at the West Palm Beach VA at the start of the year, making him the first member of Congress to have an office at a VA facility. Mast has partnered up with three Democrats in the Florida delegation–U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings–who share the office. Mast said it took him a year to maneuver the federal bureaucracy to open the office in the VA facility.

Back in March, Mast unveiled the “Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act” which would let VA secretary permit members of Congress to have offices in VA facilities to help constituents.

“Serving veterans in our community is not only deeply personal to me, it’s also the most frequent request that I get as a member of Congress,” Mast said when he brought out the bill.  “Opening the first-ever congressional office inside a VA hospital has allowed us to help veterans on the spot: when and where they’re having an issue. Every single member of Congress should do the same at their local VA and this bill will pave the way to make that high level of service a reality for our veterans.”

Mast is considered a top target for Democrats in as they look to flip the House. Democrats at the national level, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), have high hopes for attorney Lauren Baer who won the nomination in last month’s primary

 

Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

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