June 6, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5855, the Fiscal Year 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
After successfully thwarting several attempts at terrorist attacks in our skies, and eliminating the world’s most heinous terrorist Osama bin Laden, we can agree our country is safer today than it was ten years ago.
But we face constant reminders that the war on terror is far from over. Our freedom isn’t free, and we cannot skimp on our national security if we want to stay vigilant and – most importantly – safe.
Discretionary funding provided by this bill totals just over $39 billion – a cut of $483 million below last year and $393 million below the President’s request. Chairman Aderholt and his subcommittee drafted this bill with four priorities in mind: putting security first; encouraging strong fiscal discipline; mandating robust oversight efforts; and boosting the research and grant programs that support American jobs, innovation, and preparedness.
To support and address vital frontline operations, the bill makes smart increases or holds constant programs that enhance intelligence, threat-targeting, or that act as the first line of defense and response. This includes providing funding for the largest immigration detention capacity and Border Patrol agents in ICE history.
But at the end of the day, the bill totals less than it did last year, and that is because of thoughtful, responsible reductions. Our limited government resources must be put towards programs and services with proven benefits and tangible results. These cuts targeted programs with known inefficiencies, program delays, excessive overhead costs, or those that simply had lower budget requirements. The bill also rescinds excess or unspent prior-year funds.
As DHS nears its tenth anniversary, we’re reminded that the Department in its current form is still “under construction.” Though we’ve seen some real progress made, DHS can still improve the way it spends taxpayer dollars and administers its grant programs. This legislation takes the right steps to direct spending accordingly – enacting reforms, requiring tougher oversight, and demanding justifications and spending plans from programs that do not have a history of wise spending decisions.
I want to thank Chairman Aderholt, Ranking Member Price, the Subcommittee, and the staff for their hard work and many hours spent drafting this important bill. This legislation is proof that we can do more with less – a reduction in spending coupled with reforms to encourage efficiency and sustainability will help get us on a stronger fiscal path.
I believe this is a good piece of legislation that deserves bipartisan support. I urge my colleagues to vote ‘yes’ on this bill to help prevent future terrorist attacks, protect air passengers and keep our borders secure.