Chairman Cartwright Statement at the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for The Department of Justice Hearing

2021-05-04 10:10

Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for The Department of Justice:

We meet today to review the President’s fiscal year 2022 budget request for the Department of Justice. 

I am pleased to welcome Attorney General Merrick Garland for his first appearance before this Subcommittee.  The Attorney General has a distinguished career in public service.  With an enviable academic record, and an impressive trajectory in private practice, he chose to take up the mantle of federal prosecutor. 

In the course of that work, he led the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing case, and supervised major cases ,such as the Unabomber case, before joining the second highest court in the land, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  He served there with great distinction for 24 years, seven as Chief Judge, where his reputation as an influential and formidable jurist was widely acknowledged.

The Department of Justice mission encompasses the whole range of public and civic life: protecting fundamental freedoms to vote, express ourselves, worship, study, and work without fear. Above all, the DOJ ensures the rule of law is followed under our Constitution.   As a result, the Attorney General, through the Department, exercises many broad functions, including:

  • leading the domestic Federal response to terrorism and foreign threats;
  • employing expansive criminal and civil investigative, enforcement, and regulatory responsibilities;
  • serving as a watchdog for civil and human rights;
  • playing a key role in our immigration system, determining benefits and citizenship;
  • leading national efforts against trafficking in human beings, illicit drugs, and firearms;
  • operating detention and correction programs responsible for hundreds of thousands of persons who are awaiting trial or serving federal sentences; and
  • through its grants and related service programs, improves access to and administration of justice at State, local and tribal levels.

To carry out the Department’s many missions, the so-called “skinny budget” the Office of Management and Budget  provided Congress on April 9th proposes a funding level of $35.2 billion in fiscal year 2022, a $1.8 billion, or 5.3-percent increase over the fiscal year 2021 enacted level.  And of course, the Department continues to operate during a global health pandemic, albeit one that should be lessening under your watch.  While we are somewhat limited because we have yet to receive the full budget proposal, today we will discuss and review the initiatives highlighted in the skinny budget proposal. 

The proposed increase for civil rights enforcement is sorely needed.  This is an historic opportunity to address systemic barriers to full participation in society, ensure access to economic opportunities, and protect the right to vote.

As we face unprecedented threats from domestic violent extremism, such as the attack on the Capitol on January 6, and a national epidemic of firearm deaths and injuries, your proposed increases to address those problems are critical and we look forward to your explanation of how these funds will be utilized.  We also want to hear how the Department would use proposed increases to the Office of Violence Against Women to support victims and aid in our fight against heinous gender-based crimes.

The Administration has proposed a $157 million increase for the Executive Office for Immigration Review to reduce delays in immigration processing.  We expect to learn more about how the Department can help make our immigration system work fairly and efficiently.

We are also interested in your plans in other priority areas, including environmental justice and protecting intellectual property rights to ensure the U.S. can compete fairly in the global marketplace as well as protects American industries and jobs.

The Department is, like our country, at a crossroads.  As a nation, we must work to restore faith not only in our political system but in the ties that bind us together as a society.  These ties have been tested, certainly, but not broken, and we must ensure that remains true.   

Attorney General Garland, you are entrusted to restore faith in the Department and its ability to carry out, impartially, and on a nonpartisan basis, its historic responsibilities.  I know these are challenges you will face head-on.  We look forward to working with you on all these challenges.

117th Congress