June 6, 2012
Madam Chair, it was 68 years ago today that more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed and wounded during the D-day invasion in Normandy, France. That courageous operation, as well as the sacrifice of so many brave individuals, serves as a sobering reminder that freedom and security are not free. It is with this solemn commitment to both freedom and security that I respectfully present to the people's House the FY 2013 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
Similar to our committee's work over the past 2 fiscal years, this bill demonstrates how we can sufficiently fund vital security programs while also at the same time reducing discretionary spending overall. This bill does not represent a false choice between fiscal responsibility and our Nation's security. Both are national security priorities and both are vigorously addressed in this bill by focusing upon four key priorities:
First, fiscal discipline. This bill reduces spending below the FY12-enacted level;
Second, oversight. This bill continues and strengthens the subcommittee's long bipartisan tradition of strict accountability;
Third, support for frontline operations. This bill sustains and it actually even increases operational programs, including border and maritime security, immigration enforcement, investigations, targeted aviation security activities, disaster relief, and also cybersecurity;
Fourth, preparedness and innovation. Despite the bill's overall reduction in spending, investments and preparedness grants and science and technology are substantially increased above FY12 levels.
In sum, I believe this to be a very strong bill that incorporates considerable input from nearly 200 Members, including members of the authorizing committees, and also along with the Appropriations Committee, which meets our Nation's pressing needs for both security and fiscal restraint.
I would like to go into a few details on fiscal discipline and spending that are included in this legislation.
The bill before us today provides $39.1 billion in base discretionary funding, which is nearly a half billion dollars below the FY12-enacted level, and it is almost $400 million below the President's own request. There are no earmarks in this bill or the accompanying report.
The bill cuts the Department's bureaucratic overhead and headquarters functions by nearly 18 percent below the request and 7 percent below last year's level. Also, the bill substantially reduces the administrative overhead of the Department of Homeland Security component agencies, including a $61 million reduction to TSA's administrative functions and a reallocation of TSA's resources to increase privatized screening and canine enforcement teams. In fact, TSA is cut overall by some $422 million below last year's level.
As I noted, this bill puts priority funding on frontline personnel, such as the Border Patrol, CBP officers, Coast Guard military personnel, and law enforcement agents. It supports the largest immigration detention capacity in the history of ICE, and it sustains high-risk aviation security. It fully funds the known requirement for disaster relief; supports long overdue initiatives in cybersecurity; and robustly supports intelligence, watch-listing, threat-targeting systems, preparedness grants, and science and technology programs, including the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
In addition, this bill reforms the way the Coast Guard acquires its costly operational assets and responsibly funds much-needed cutters and aviation assets, those essential tools that will keep our coastlines safe and secure our maritime approaches against the plague of illegal drugs.
This bill also provides funding where the administration utterly failed. This bill makes up for the $115 million shortfall that was handed to us by the Department through phony, unauthorized fee collections, as well as the $110 million shortfall resulting from OMB's failure to properly access CBP's fee collections. The administration may be able to rely on some of these fee gimmicks in the President's budget, but here in the House and in the subcommittee we do not have that luxury.
With respect to oversight, our subcommittee has a bipartisan tradition of insisting upon results for each and every taxpayer dollar that it appropriates. Therefore, the bill includes robust oversight by way of intensified spend plan requirements, reporting requirements, a full accounting of disaster relief costs, and operational requirements to include Border Patrol staffing levels and ICE's detention capacity.
However, I must note that the Department of Homeland Security did an unacceptably poor job at complying with the statutory requirements that were enacted in FY12. Those failures are assertively addressed in this bill and the report, and we address this through sizable cuts and withholdings to the Department.
Furthermore, this bill holds the administration's feet to the fire when it comes to enforcing our Nation's immigration laws. In response to the administration's repeated attempts to water down enforcement, this bill directs ICE to maintain 34,000 detention beds and continue funding 287(g) and worksite enforcement at the FY 2012 levels. It is the prerogative of Congress to set such priorities, and I stand by this direction in the bill.
Our subcommittee is serious about compelling the Department to not only enforce the law, but to comply with the law as well, and we cannot tolerate further failures in this regard.
Finally, on preparedness and innovation. The bill increases preparedness grants by nearly 17 percent and science and technology programs by nearly 24 percent above last year's levels. Committee members and our authorizing members have provided considerable input on these programs, and I'm committed to leveraging technology and well-justified investments to sustain our Nation's preparedness as well as spur innovation and foster an environment for job growth.
In closing my comments this afternoon, I would like to thank Ranking Member David Price. He has been a statesman and a real partner during this process as we have moved this bill forward over the last several months. I do want to thank him for his dedicated professionalism and also his dedicated staff that have acted in a tremendously professional manner, for their input and contributions that they have made to this bill.
Let me recognize and thank the members of the Appropriations Committee and also many of the members of the authorizing committee, for their input and their vital oversight work over the past few months as well, as we have moved forward in the producing of this bill.
I'd like to thank the dedicated staff for the Department of Homeland Security that I work with on a day-by-day basis as we move this bill forward: the clerk, Ben Nicholson; Jeff Ashford; Kris Mallard; Kathy Kraninger; Miles Taylor; Cornell Teague; and Joe Croce, as well as in my own office, in my personal office who worked on this bill, Brian Rell and Mark Dawson and, of course, on the minority side, Stephanie Gupta, who did a tremendous job in a professional manner on the minority side.
Finally, I do want to thank the distinguished chairman and the ranking member of the overall Appropriations Committee, Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Norm Dicks. As much as we had to make difficult choices and tradeoffs at the subcommittee level, I know they had to make much more difficult choices across all 12 subcommittees.
So I sincerely believe, Mr. Chairman, that this bill reflects our best efforts to address our Nation's most urgent needs for security and also to address fiscal discipline. I would urge my colleagues in the House to support this measure.