Lowey statement at full committee markup of FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Yoder, Ranking Member Roybal-Allard, and Chairman Frelinghuysen for your work on this bill.
At the outset, I would like to acknowledge that this is the last markup over which Chairman Frelinghuysen will preside. He is going to accomplish a great deal in the remaining months of the 115th Congress, but I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying a few kind words.
From serving in the Army during the Vietnam War to the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the New Jersey General Assembly, and the halls of Congress, you have dedicated your life to public service.
This is your 24th year on the committee. In that time you served on seven subcommittees and chaired the DC, Energy and Water, and Defense subcommittees before becoming chairman of the full committee. You have always placed the interests of New Jersey, and all Americans, ahead of ideology. Members like you make this the best committee in all of Congress.
You have more than earned your retirement, but I cannot express how much we will miss you.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank Nancy for her service. It is yeoman’s work being Staff Director. Nancy has handled this tough (that’s an understatement) job with grace and we owe her and her family a debt of gratitude. We couldn’t do this without the staff and thank you for your years of service to Silvio Conte, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and this Committee.
With those warm thoughts behind us, I will now turn to the Homeland Security bill.
After securing a bipartisan spending agreement that provided $18 billion in additional non-defense funds for Fiscal Year 2019, House Republicans have prioritized unnecessary funds for President Trump’s border wall and cruel immigration policies rather than adequately address the education of our children, burden of college debt, health of Americans, and training of our workforce, let alone investments that directly enhance our security such as first responder grants.
This bill would waste $4.9 billion – more than the bill’s entire increase – on a border wall. That is three times the President’s already absurd $1.6 billion request. Democrats are united in opposition to large increases in ICE detention beds and hiring hundreds of new personnel to carry out the Administration’s overly aggressive interior enforcement policies.
Sadly, this bill does nothing to address the crises of President Trump’s own making. Its silence would allow the deportation of Dreamers and President Trump’s plans of indefinite detention of children and families, in contravention of basic decency and longstanding legal protections.
To make matters worse, the bill fails to provide any of the requested $750 million for a new Coast Guard heavy icebreaker. This is an area where Russia is vastly outperforming us: we have two icebreakers, one of which is so old that the crew has to find replacement parts on E-Bay, while our adversary has dozens. This inadequacy is made that much more disgraceful in light of the President’s pitiful performance in Helsinki.
Today, we will debate several Democratic amendments that invest in real security programs while retaining our nation’s integrity. I hope my colleagues take these amendments under serious consideration so this bill can be significantly improved.