Chairman Hal Rogers Floor Statement on H.R. 2217, the FY14 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Jun 5, 2013

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 2217, the Fiscal Year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations.

I’d like to thank my colleagues for their careful consideration of the MilCon Appropriations bill yesterday, and I’d like to ask them to continue these efforts on this bill today – a conscientious piece of legislation that I believe can and should pass this House on a bipartisan basis.

The bill before you today provides $38.9 billion for the Department of Homeland Security.

In such austere budget times, this bill rightly prioritizes spending on programs that save American lives. Frontline protection, terrorism prevention and response, disaster recovery assistance, and a strong and secure border – all of these are paramount to the safety and security of our homeland.

We are constantly reminded that we cannot let our frontline security efforts lapse. The terrible attack on the Boston Marathon underscored the need to support key readiness programs, provide heroic first responders with the funding they deserve, and improve intelligence and threat-targeting activities – so we can help avoid terrible attacks like this in the future.

With this bill, we are tightening security at our borders with funding increases for CBP and ICE that preserve the highest totals of Border Patrol agents and CBP officers, and the highest detention bed capacity in history. We’ve targeted funding to combat human trafficking, child exploitation, cyber-crime and drug smuggling. And we’re protecting our shores and access points with adequate funding for the Coast Guard and TSA. 

This bill also fully supports the known requirements from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which provides assistance to localities overwhelmed by catastrophic natural disasters like the recent tornadoes in the Midwest. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims of these disasters that have ravaged our nation.

To that end, this bill provides an additional $6.2 billion for the DRF for FY 2014. Right now, combined with the approximately $11 billion FEMA already has on hand, there is sufficient funding for the immediate response needs in Oklahoma and other affected areas. And my Committee stands at the ready to reassess any needs as a fuller picture of the damage becomes clear. It is our duty as Members of Congress to provide this critical assistance to communities that are suffering from such unexpected and devastating natural disasters. 

Mr. Chairman, strong national security comes at a price. And as we all well know, tax dollars for these programs are in limited supply these days. So we cannot let any of the funding we appropriate to the Department of Homeland Security go to unproven or wasteful programs. Across the Department, we have made careful reductions that bring total funding in this bill to $617 million less than the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

We have enforced strict reporting requirements and other oversight tools to guarantee that DHS is spending its dollars wisely. And we’ve prevented funding from being used on risky or controversial efforts, like transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, or another “Fast and Furious” type program.

Before I conclude, I’d like to extend my appreciation to Chairman Carter and Ranking Member Price for their hard work in crafting this legislation. This is John Carter’s first bill as a Cardinal, and I’d say his maiden voyage was a success. I’d also like to thank the entire Subcommittee and the staff for the tireless hours dedicated toward crafting a bill of such great importance to our national security.

I am proud to stand before you today with this bill – which represents all that makes our country great and the security that will keep our country great. I urge my colleagues to support this bill today.

Thank you.