Chairman Cartwright Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Justice Hearing

2022-04-28 14:50

Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Justice. 

Good morning.  Welcome to the first hearing of the year for the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.   I am pleased to welcome Attorney General Merrick Garland back to speak to us on the fiscal year 2023 budget request for the Department of Justice.  

It has been a very busy year for you, sir, since our last meeting, and we look forward to discussing the major priorities for the Department of Justice.  As we noted last year, the Justice Department's missions are far-reaching. The Department helps administer the law and support the Constitution; protect national security and human rights; preserve civil liberties; support free and fair elections; and safeguard our commerce and economy.  DOJ administers a massive, complex detention and correction enterprise, adjudicates immigration benefits, and oversees a broad and sophisticated criminal investigative and prosecutorial system.  

In addition to its traditional and ongoing missions, Justice is taking on new work to support our national response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the help of new funding Congress provided in last month’s Ukraine supplemental.  

DOJ is carrying out its largest, and unprecedented, investigation and prosecution effort into the January 6 insurrection and related events.  And while DOJ is adjusting to the arc of the COVID-19 pandemic, it must also ensure that billions in essential pandemic assistance funding are not lost to fraud.

The Department’s task is to ensure that a Constitution rooted in the 18th-century enlightenment can safely negotiate 21st-century headwinds.  We hope this Committee can help ensure you are equipped with a 21st-century toolkit to navigate those winds.

To carry out the Department’s broad missions, your budget seeks $38.7 billion in discretionary funding, about 11.3 percent above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level.

Your budget proposes significant funding to strengthen the response to a concerning national epidemic in opioid overdoses, and surging gun violence.  It also seeks resources to address a concerning and historic threat from violent extremists, particularly White supremacists.  We hope to discuss these both in greater detail. As the Bureau of Prisons begins to come out of the pandemic, we expect to learn how it is improving its staffing, reducing overcrowding, and implementing the First Step Act reforms using the substantial investments provided by Congress.

We also want to hear how the Department would utilize the significant increases that are sought for the Office on Violence Against Women; juvenile justice programs; and efforts to strengthen community policing.

The Administration has proposed a $595 million, or 78 percent, increase for the Executive Office for Immigration Review to address significant immigration processing backlogs.  We expect to learn more about how the Department can help make our immigration system work in the face of an unprecedented workload.

You have taken steps to identify corruption and “capture” Russian kleptocrats, or at least their ill-gotten wealth.  We will want to learn more about progress in that effort.

We also look to hear more about the proposed initiatives to bolster antitrust enforcement, support environmental justice, and defend intellectual property rights to protect American industries and jobs.

Attorney General Garland, you have a big job that is only getting bigger.  We look forward to your testimony. Let me now turn to my distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Aderholt, for his statement.

117th Congress