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

2019-06-05 07:46

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

Welcome, everyone, to the markup of the fiscal year 2020 funding act for the Department of Homeland Security.

I want to begin by thanking my minority counterpart, Ranking Member Fleischmann, for his input and cooperation in putting together the bill and report before us this morning.  I know there are areas of disagreement – in some cases significant disagreement – but there are many more on which we are in close agreement.  Ranking Member Fleischman, I very much appreciate your partnership – and that of your excellent committee staffer, Dena Barron.

I am hopeful that by the end of our process, the bill will garner broad support from both sides of the aisle.

I would be remiss if I did not remark on the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the southern border.  There are sharp disagreements about its causes and how to address them.  However, all migrants who come into our government’s custody must be treated with dignity and respect.

I hope we can agree that there are many factors involved, and that addressing the problem will require a comprehensive and balanced approach.  It is increasingly apparent to me that comprehensive immigration reform is the key, along with expanded assistance to and cooperation with our neighbors in the Northern Triangle.

Members have before them copies of the draft bill and report.  We have done our best to address as many of your concerns and priorities as possible, along with those of members of the full committee and 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.

The subcommittee 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.

For CBP, the bill provides $242 million for innovative technology at the border and at ports of entry, and 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.

No funding is provided for the border wall or additional border barriers, and a provision is included prohibiting the use of any federal funds for border barrier construction other than funds explicitly appropriated by Congress for that purpose in prior years.

The bill 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.  This is equivalent to the average daily population for interior enforcement between fiscal years 2013 and 2016.  To address potential border surges, the bill would make additional funding available for ICE detention capacity, but only after certifications by the secretary that such a surge is occurring.

The bill phases out family detention by the end of 2019, while also providing $64 million above the 2019 enacted levels to continue to expand 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.

For the Transportation Security Administration, the bill sustains the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and the Local Law Enforcement Reimbursement Program; provides $82 million to continue current TSA exit lane staffing.  It also 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 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 12th 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 21 percent funding increase will help the new agency move faster to improve our cyber and infrastructure defense capabilities.

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

•             $700 million for UASI 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.

I’ll end by again thanking the ranking member for his collegiality and constructive input on the drafting process for the bill and report.

It is unfortunate that the large, controversial issues often overshadow the good, bipartisan work that we do together to provide oversight of the department’s activities and to ensure that its more than 240,000 personnel have the resources they need to successfully carry out the department’s important missions.

I thank the subcommittee staff, both majority and minority, for all their efforts over the last few months, particularly when considering that they got no real break after finishing up the FY 2019 cycle in March.

I am proud of the work we have done on this bill and report, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

116th Congress