Chairman Rogers Opening Statement on FY 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for Full Committee Markup

May 16, 2012

Thank you, Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Price, for your remarks and your skillful work on this bill. As a founding member of this subcommittee, I’m fully aware of the intricacies and time needed to craft such an important piece of legislation, and thanks to you and your staffs, we have a comprehensive, well-written bill before us today.

Since the Department was established nearly ten years ago, we’ve seen some real progress. Not only have we marked the one-year anniversary of Seal Team Six’s successful mission eliminating our number-one terrorist target Osama Bin Laden, but we continue to make visible strides protecting air passengers, securing our borders, and thwarting terrorist threats.

But we are constantly reminded the war on terror is far from over. We must remain vigilant and ahead of the game.

The safety and protection of our citizens is of the utmost importance - so it only makes sense that we keep a sharp eye on how and why we are spending our tax dollars on national security. We’ve shored up the most important programs, ensuring DHS has the resources it needs to do its job well. With this in mind, the bill funds DHS programs at $39.1 billion for FY13, prioritizing the most critical, frontline operations, as well as threat-targeting and risk-based activities.

While continuing the highest levels in history for Border Patrol agents, CBP officers, ICE agents, and ICE detention beds, we’ve made smart increases for FEMA First Responder Grants, cybersecurity efforts, and research and development – supporting job creation, innovation and preparedness. In addition, we’ve provided the requested level of disaster relief funding for FEMA. Federal spending should be focused on the programs that deliver hard and fast results, and that’s true within this bill.

But at the end of the day, we are coming in with a bill that’s $484 million below last year’s level and $393 million below the President’s request. That’s a real achievement; we are improving the way the government spends its money without punishing or harming its most vital programs and services.

I believe – and Chairman Aderholt believes – that the Department of Homeland Security can do more to eliminate inefficiencies, tighten its oversight of spending, and streamline its programs. The importance of the Department’s work does not make it immune to careful and deliberate reforms that encourage tougher oversight and prudent spending cuts. This bill guides DHS to address these issues and use precious taxpayer dollars more wisely and effectively.

At a time when we are facing not only threats from insurgents who would destroy the American way of life, but also the perils of having mountains of debt, we can neither afford to overspend nor withstand the risks of an overburdened and underpaid security system. This bill achieves that delicate balance. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.