Chair DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2023 Homeland Security Funding Bill

2022-06-24 10:13

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2023 Homeland Security bill:

Thank you, Chairwoman Roybal-Allard. I want to just start by saying we will miss you. I wanted to recognize you and thank you personally for your decades of service and your close friendship. You have been a trailblazer in the Congress and on this Committee and a champion for the people of California. Your advocacy for families, for children, and for the policies that you believe in has been instrumental in creating change in this nation. As the Chair of the Homeland Security subcommittee, you have carried out a difficult assignment with grit and with grace. And I personally have been honored to serve alongside you and to learn so much from you on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, where you serve as Vice Chair. It has been such a privilege for me to have a front row seat to your work in this institution and I thank you for everything you have done. And we all thank you. You are a great lady, Lucille Roybal-Allard. Thank you for serving this country and your constituents.

Thank you, Ranking Member Fleischmann, for his efforts that he laid out, that this is a complex bill and it’s a difficult bill. I also want to say a thank you to the Members of the Homeland Security Subcommittee for your work on this bill.

The investments within it fund the many programs and agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These programs are wide-ranging, but when taken together, they make crucial investments to protect our national security, to keep Americans safe, while upholding the values we cherish as a nation. This bill includes over $60.3 billion in discretionary appropriations, that is an increase of $2.8 billion from last year.

Included in this is funding to continue securing our borders with smart and effective investments. Funding for border security and other innovative technologies, more thorough vehicle inspections at ports of entry, an expanded number of customs officers and support personnel, and body worn camera programs for CBP and ICE personnel helping to secure the borders and make our nation safer.

At the same time, this bill addresses some long-time concerns about the conditions that asylum seekers and other migrants find at our borders. While we have a duty to keep our nation safe, the vast majority of migrants do not pose a threat and we have a moral responsibility to respect the dignity of those who look for refuge here. We are improving migrant processing and border conditions with funding to support appropriate migrant medical care, expand the Missing Migrant Program, and expand and improve alternatives to detention.

We are also reducing the major backlogs in refugee, asylum, and immigration benefit applications.

As our economy and infrastructure continue to grow more reliant on the internet, cyber-attacks and intrusions by foreign actors are of increasing concern. We are responding, through this bill, with $2.9 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and $12.8 million for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to combat cybercrime.

Protecting our borders must also include strong investments in maritime security. The bill ensures we support Coast Guard operational and personnel readiness as members of our Coast Guard make inland waterways safer, counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean, and counter Russia’s presence in the Arctic and China’s in the Pacific. The bill includes over $14 billion for the Coast Guard, a $900 million increase, including $2.3 billion for procurement of Coast Guard fleet assets and shore infrastructure, an increase of $271 million above the current year and $646 million above the request.

At the same time, we are strengthening the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. With the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, our need to provide strong support for FEMA has become even more evident, which is why we provide $1.4 billion for FEMA operations, it is an increase of $169 million, and $19.95 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund. We also provide $4.1 billion for FEMA grant programs, including preparedness grant programs, firefighter grants, flood mapping, and the Emergency Food and Shelter program.

As I mentioned above, this bill’s impact is varied but our security depends on so much of it. That is why we include nearly $10 billion for TSA to make passenger security stronger. We support the personnel that protect us, ensuring that Transportation Security Officers and other personnel are paid at rates similar to those of other federal employees performing comparable types of work.

I have said this already and I will say it again: We reject, I reject the false dichotomy that we must leave our values at the door as we look to protect our nation and strengthen our security. DHS plays a critical role in keeping our nation safe and we must support and strengthen these efforts while respecting the dignity of those who reach our borders and ensuring they receive due process under the law.  

Finally, let me say a thank you to the subcommittee staff for their work. On the majority side: Darek Newby, Kris Mallard, Bob Joachim, Mike Herman, Victoria Allred, Takeena Strachan, Tony Lawrence, and Sofia Perez. And on the minority side: Paul Anstine and Tom Huntley.  And I thank you again, Chairwoman and Ranking Member. I urge support for this important bill and thank my colleagues for their work.

117th Congress