Two Republicans leaders said Sunday that Obama administration needs to be more aggressive when it comes to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism.
The recent attacks in Paris have brought new attention to the threat of Western jihadists traveling to rouge states like Syria to train with terror groups. One of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shooting, Said Kouachi, traveled to Yemen in 2011 and trained with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most active terror affiliates in the Middle East.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday on "Face The Nation" that the U.S. needs to do a better job tracking suspected jihadists that hail from European nations and can return to their home countries to carry out attacks.
"We don't have a good handle intelligence-wise who was on the ground in Syria, and Iraq, and Yemen to identify them, to put them on no-fly lists so they can't get in the country," he said.
Analysts say thousands of Europeans have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has proclaimed its own Islamic state in the territory it holds. In addition, American officials believe about 150 Americans have tried to join the group as well.
"This is a threat that happened in Paris," McCaul said. "It could happen anywhere."
He added that Europe in particular needs to strengthen and tighten its travel restrictions and said the U.S. may want to re-examine the agreement that allows Western European citizens to come to America without a visa. McCaul said his committee plans to launch an investigation to find security and defense gaps when it comes to tracking foreign fighters.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is now the Senate Majority Whip, criticized President Obama for focusing on "political correctness" instead of talking tough against terrorism.
"We know that, for example, when Major Nidal Hasan made his attack at Fort Hood, they called that workplace violence," Cornyn said, referring to the deadly 2009 shooting in Texas. "And they are calling the war on terror 'overseas contingency operations.' We need to call it what it is. Because that's the first step to actually dealing with it on a realistic basis."
The Department of Homeland Security, which plays a central role in the war on terror, is only funded through February due to political maneuvering during the latest round of spending negotiations late last year. Republicans hoped to use this tactic to gut President Obama's executive actions on immigration, but that plan has come under fire in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Instead, House Republicans introduced a bill Friday to provide $40 billion in funding for the department, and Cornyn said on "Face The Nation" that the bill should quickly become law.
"We are absolutely committed to the security of our homeland and will do nothing on a bipartisan basis to erode those protections," Cornyn said.