Chairwoman Roybal-Allard Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2020 Homeland Security Funding Bill

2019-06-11 06:56

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Appropriations Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2020 Homeland Security bill:

I am pleased to present the mark for the fiscal year 2020 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  We have done our best to find a balance between addressing the needs of departmental components to protect the nation, while at the same time ensuring their actions reflect American values.

We have also done our best to address as many of your concerns and priorities as possible, along with those of members of the House more broadly.  It hasn’t been easy:  the subcommittee received 3,200 member requests, including over 1,200 requests for bill or report language. 

Let me begin by thanking Ranking Member Fleischmann for his input and cooperation in putting together the bill and report.  There are, of course, areas of major disagreement, but for most of this bill I believe we are closely aligned, and Chuck, I very much appreciate your partnership.  While I know you are not in a position to support the bill in its current form, I am hopeful that by the end of our process the bill will garner your support, and that of other members from both sides of the aisle.

The bill we are marking up this morning will provide resources for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2019. 

But I think all members of the committee are aware of the current serious humanitarian crisis at our southern border. 

We have been in close and frequent contact with departmental officials, including the acting secretary and the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, and I am hopeful we will soon be moving on a supplemental appropriations bill to address the immediate challenges.  Bipartisan, bicameral cooperation will be essential to ensure the badly needed additional funds are provided and used effectively and humanely.

The committee mark recommends $63.8 billion in total discretionary appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security, including $49.7 billion within the bill’s 302(b) allocation and $14.1 billion as a budget cap adjustment for major disaster response and recovery activities.  The overall total is an increase of $2.2 billion above the fiscal year 2019 funding level, and $1.9 billion below the president’s budget request. 

Throughout the bill, we provide increases above the request to annualize the cost of the 2019 civilian pay raise, and provide a 2020 civilian pay raise of 3.1 percent.

This bill takes a balanced approach that includes many increases above the current level and the request across the diverse range of the department’s homeland security missions.

For the Transportation Security Administration, the bill sustains the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams and the Local Law Enforcement Reimbursement Program.  It provides $82 million to continue current TSA exit lane staffing, and provides funding above the request for the procurement of computed tomography screening equipment.

For the Coast Guard, the bill provides $894 million above the President’s request, including:

  • $78 million more than the request for the maintenance of assets and infrastructure; and
  • Increased funding for recruitment and the continuation of a higher child care subsidy for Coast Guard personnel.

It provides nearly $2 billion for procurement of new assets for the Coast Guard’s air and sea fleets, including:

  • $135 million for the Polar Security Cutter program, including $100 million for long lead time materials for the second Polar Security Cutter;
  • $290 million for five Fast Response Cutters;
  • $215 million for two new H-130J aircraft;
  • $70 million to procure a replacement Long Range Command and Control Aircraft; and
  • $251 million for Shore Facilities and Aids to Navigation, including $78 million above the request for the Coast Guard’s Housing, Family Support, Safety, and Training Facilities.

The bill also reserves $100 million for long lead time materials for a twelfth National Security Cutter, while the Coast Guard determines whether this additional ship is required.

It provides $2 billion for the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an increase of $335 million above the current year and $408 million above the request.  This 20 percent funding increase will help the new agency move faster to improve our cyber and infrastructure defense capabilities.

The total also includes $24 million for the Election Infrastructure Security Initiative. 

The bill rejects the administration’s proposed cuts to FEMA grants, and instead provides:

  • $700 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants, an increase of $60 million, including $50 million for non-profit security grants;
  • $625 million for State Homeland Security grants, an increase of $100 million, including $40 million for non-profit security grants; and
  • $750 million for firefighter equipment and hiring grants, an increase of $50 million.

For U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the bill provides $11.3 million in discretionary funding for the Office of Citizenship, along with $10 million for the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program.

We also provide increases above the request for the Secret Service, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, the Science and Technology Directorate, and the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.

For CBP, the bill provides $242 million for innovative technology at the border and at ports of entry.  It also provides $151 million for 1,846 new positions, including new mission support and operational support positions, agriculture specialists, and 1,200 new CBP officers.

Because DHS has failed to fully comply with the requirement in the fiscal year 2018 funding bill to provide a risk-based plan for improving border security, the bill provides no funding for new additional border barriers, and prohibits the use of any other federal funds for border barrier construction other than those explicitly appropriated by Congress in prior years.  At the very least, a validated plan should be in place before we consider spending any more taxpayer dollars on new border barriers.

Furthermore, the fiscal year 2019 DHS funding bill was the result of careful negotiations, including the agreement to provide nearly $1.4 billion for the construction of additional border barriers.  The president effectively violated that agreement when he diverted $601 million in Treasury Forfeiture Fund resources to augment the appropriated amount, not to mention the billions in Defense Department funding he is attempting to redirect for that purpose. 

As a consequence, the bill rescinds $601 million from CBP’s fiscal year 2019 procurement account to help restore the status quo.  This is the very least we appropriators should do to defend Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.

The bill also provides funding for an average daily population in ICE custody of 34,000 single adults, including an average daily population of not more than 17,000 single adults detained following arrest in the interior of the country.  That is equivalent to the average daily population for interior enforcement between fiscal years 2013 and 2016.

To address the potential of future border surges, the bill would make additional funding increments available for ICE detention capacity, but only after certifications by the secretary that such a surge is occurring.  And none of that additional funding could be used for interior enforcement.

The bill phases out family detention by the end of 2019, while also providing $64 million above the 2019 enacted levels to continue expanding ICE’s alternatives to detention and family case management programs.

It provides an increase of $14 million above the current year level to fund at least two inspections per year at ICE’s “over-72 hour” detention facilities, and an additional $54 million above the request to address ICE’s detention facilities backlog for repairs and improvements at existing locations.

The bill also establishes a new ombudsman for immigration detention, who will report directly to the secretary on conditions in ICE and CBP detention facilities; make recommendations for improvement; and ensure that improvements are made and sustained.

In closing, I again thank the ranking member for his collegiality and constructive input on the drafting of the bill and report.  It is unfortunate that the large, controversial issues often overshadow the good, bipartisan work we do together to provide oversight of the department’s activities, and to ensure its more than 240,000 personnel have the resources they need to successfully carry out the department’s important missions.

I also extend my sincere thanks to the subcommittee staff, both majority and minority, for all their long hours and hard work in drafting the bill and report.

I am proud of the work we have done, and I urge my colleagues’ support.

116th Congress