Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2020 DOJ Budget Request

2019-04-09 11:00

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Department of Justice:

I’d like to thank Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt for holding this hearing. Attorney General Barr, welcome, and thank you for appearing this morning.

Before getting into your budget request, I want to address a serious oversight matter – your unacceptable handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

It’s been reported that the report is 300-400 pages, and I use the term “reported” because we have no idea how long it actually is. All we have is your four-page summary letter, which seems to cherry pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the President. In many ways, your letter raises more questions than it answers.

I must say, it is extraordinary to evaluate hundreds of pages of evidence, legal documents, and findings based on a 22-month long inquiry and make definitive legal conclusions in less than 48 hours. Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it is more suspicious than impressive.

Your conclusion is something we’ve seen before. In fact, we’ve seen it in your own legal writing. In June 2018 you wrote a memo, as a private citizen and a former Attorney General, to the Department of Justice laying out the President’s case against obstruction of justice. Your audition clearly went well.

I look forward to reviewing the Mueller report myself, and I know my constituents do as well. I understand that portions of it must be redacted as a matter of law, but my hope is that you will stop there and bring transparency to this process as soon as possible. The American people deserve the facts.

Now, to your FY20 budget request. The request provides a significant increase for immigration judges and a modest increase for most Federal law enforcement. However, it either eliminates or significantly cuts respected grant programs at the Department of Justice that make a real difference in our constituents’ daily lives.

For example, your request significantly decreases essential programs including:

  • The COPS program, which advances community policing on a state and local level would be cut by $205 million;
  • The DNA Initiative program, which provides grants to reduce the rape kit backlog by ensuring evidence that could lead to meaningful convictions does not sit on forgotten shelves, would be cut by $25 million; and
  • Juvenile Justice Programs, which help prevent youth crime, violence, and reduce recidivism which would be cut by $48.5 million.

These are simply unacceptable reductions. I look forward to a productive discussion today and hope you can shed some light on how this budget request can adequately respond to the grave tasks the Department of Justice and its grant programs undertake daily.

Thank you.

116th Congress