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

2022-06-16 09:35

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2023 bill:

Thank you very much, Madam Chair. It’s hard for me to internalize that this is the last Homeland subcommittee that you will chair and over the next few weeks with the full committee, etc, it’s hard because we have become wonderful and close friends. Your advocacy on behalf working families, your advocacy for children, is really known to all. Most of all, to those families and children – what you have tried to do. You have made your mark in that area, and it’s one of the reasons I believe that you serve, to have this institution do what our founding fathers wanted it to do. That was to help to try to make a difference in people’s lives. And you have made a difference and will continue to make a difference in people’s lives. And I have to tell you – I was at the CDC two or three weeks ago and took a picture in front of the Roybal Allard building, you know. It is in your genes, public service. Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to serve this institution, said that public service is the rent you pay for space on this earth. And you have paid that rent over and over again. 

Again, thank you, and Ranking Member Fleischmann, I thank you for your work on this bill. And to the subcommittee staff, I’ll continue to say this at our subcommittee meetings – you keep our names on the door, we are in your debt for all the great work that you do.  

The bill this subcommittee puts together has the important and unique mission of funding the wide-ranging work of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bill before us today makes crucial investments in our national security while upholding the values that we hold so dearly as a nation.

With this bill, we are addressing longstanding issues at the southern border that require that we act to achieve effective control. We are securing our borders by making smart and effective investments in technology and operations. This includes funding for 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. 

I have also been concerned for a long time about the conditions that migrants and asylum seekers find when they reach our borders. People who leave their homes and everything they know behind do so out of pure desperation and necessity. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of these migrants, especially the children. 

That is why I am proud that, as we make smart and effective investments in border security, the bill before us respects the dignity of immigrants with funding to support childcare services for migrants, improves migrant processing, invests in alternatives to detention, and reduces backlogs in refugee, asylum, and immigration benefit applications.

Among the biggest threats to our national security is the threat of cyber-attacks and intrusions. As our world moves increasingly online and threats to our democracy grow, this bill responds by protecting our critical cyber infrastructure and communications systems with dramatically increased funding, including $2.9 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an increase of $334.4 million above fiscal year 2022. 

The increasing frequency of disasters and emergencies of all types, including the pandemic, have amplified our reliance on federal disaster relief and response. This bill provides over $25billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including almost $20 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund and $4.1 billion for preparedness grant programs, firefighter grants, flood mapping, and the Emergency Food and Shelter program.

I am also particularly proud of the funding in this bill that will ensure Transportation Security Officers and other TSA personnel are paid at the same rates as other federal workers doing comparable work. This is a basic question of fairness, and it is long past time to make this change.

As we invest in all forms of border security, we must also invest strongly in maritime security and ensure we support Coast Guard operational and personnel readiness. Recent years have highlighted just how crucial the Coast Guard is to our nation’s security. The men and women of the Coast Guard do everything from ensuring the safety and navigability of inland waterways and countering illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean, to countering Russia’s presence in the Arctic, and China’s in the Pacific. The almost $14 billion for the Coast Guard in this bill will ensure they have the capacity to continue their important work and expand their reach.

The history of our nation is one of unprecedented immigration, refuge, and fight. I reject the false dichotomy that we must leave our values at the door as we look to protect and strengthen our nation’s security. This bill is proof of that. 

I urge all my colleagues to support the crucial investments in this bill and once again thank the staff and my colleagues for their work. 

117th Congress