Chairwoman Lowey Statement at House-Senate Conference Committee on Homeland Security
It is my privilege to welcome all of you to the first meeting of our conference committee on Homeland Security appropriations.
I will first recognize the chairs and ranking members of the full committee to make introductory remarks. Then we will hear from the chairs and rankings of the Homeland Security subcommittees, followed by statements from any other conferee. Given the tight timeframe to complete our work, let’s begin.
The 35 day government shutdown that ended last Friday inflicted serious harm on families, businesses, communities, and the national economy. We can all agree that we must do everything we can to prevent another unnecessary and destructive government shutdown.
In the next 16 days, our task is clear: finalizing appropriations legislation that responsibly funds much of the federal government – everything from our National Parks to border security.
Except Homeland Security, we are very close to agreement on the other six appropriations bills. While we have some differences on disaster relief and recovery, I believe we can come to a speedy agreement there as well.
Clearly, the bulk of our work will focus on Homeland Security. Along with my Democratic colleagues, I am ready to work in good faith to write a Department of Homeland Security bill that funds smart, effective border security.
In doing so, we will expand on the $1.6 billion for border security-related programs that House Democrats have already passed in the last few weeks in other appropriations bills. That includes:
- Improvements to ports of entry to improve security and facilitate both legal entries and trade
- More immigration judges to reduce the backlog in processing immigration cases
- Assistance to Central American countries to help alleviate the situation in those countries
To further secure the border, we should focus on proven solutions, like:
- Equipment at ports of entry to detect drugs and new technology between ports of entry to detect unauthorized crossings
- More aircraft and vessels to help Homeland Security agencies patrol our land borders and U.S. waters
- Resources to meet the unique humanitarian needs of migrants, especially children and families
Smart border security is not overly reliant on physical barriers, which the Trump administration has failed to demonstrate are cost effective compared to better technology and more personnel.
It is also important to recognize that, in addition to border security, the Homeland Security bill includes other key pieces of our nation’s security platform, including the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, and FEMA.
Every dollar spent on ineffective proposals means one less dollar invested in measures that actually keep us safe.
I know that the American people are counting on us to come to a reasonable and responsible solution.
We are appropriators, and consistent with the proud tradition of our committees, I am confident that we will be able to reach a compromise.
I hope that all stakeholders, including the President, will work in good faith to support us as we carry out our responsibilities.
Together, we can secure our border and uphold our values.