Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter Floor Statement on H.R. 2217

Jun 5, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, it was 69 years ago this Thursday that more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded during the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France.  That courageous operation, as well as the sacrifice of so many brave individuals, serves as a sobering reminder that freedom and security are in fact not free.

It is with this solemn commitment to both freedom and security that I respectfully present to the people’s House the fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.

Similar to our Subcommittee’s work over the past three fiscal years, this bill demonstrates how we can fund vital security programs and enforce the law while also reducing discretionary spending overall.

So, this bill is about our security and fiscal priorities...and getting them right.

The President's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal for DHS presents a harmful budget for our frontline homeland security agencies—diminishing their operational workforces and undermining mission capabilities.

The end result of the President's budget proposal would undoubtedly be a far less capable DHS.

That’s why our Subcommittee – on a bipartisan basis – strove to significantly improve the flawed budget request through this bill before the House today.

First, this bill targets the very programs and systems displayed during and after the recent, horrific attack on the Boston Marathon by: a nearly 20% increase above the request for FEMA's first responder grants; substantial increases above the request and last year's level for CBP's targeting, TSA’s SecureFlight, and ICE's visa enforcement programs, including the phase-in of 1,600 additional CBP Officers; doubling the Department's Bombing Prevention program, substantially increasing counter-IED training and applying lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a nearly 40% increase to the "If You See Something Say Something" awareness program.

In addition, the bill restores virtually all of the unjustified proposed cuts to DHS's operational programs, to include: aestoring cuts to ICE's mandated 34,000 detention beds and vital investigative programs; restoring cuts to the Coast Guard's operational expenses, including aviation and flight hours, as well as restoring the President's truly harmful cuts to recapitalization and acquisitions of cutter and aviation assets; restoring the proposed cuts to CBP's Air and Marine operating hours and procurement as well as mission support functions; restoring the proposed long-term cuts to Secret Service staffing and financial crime investigations; and providing these restorations while also strongly supporting the Department's disaster relief, cybersecurity, and research programs, including the full-year construction increment for the National Agro- and Bio- Defense Facility in Kansas.

But this bill also considers our Nation’s fiscal crisis by invoking real fiscal discipline and efficiency, including: more than $613 million dollar, or more than 1.5 percent, reduction below fiscal year 2013 to the Department’s annual budget; a 15 percent cut below the request to DHS headquarters staffing; a nearly 25 percent cut below the request to Departmental administrative expenses and bureaucratic overhead; a denial of the President's request to increase bureaucracy by creating three new headquarters offices; termination of funding for ineffectual offices and programs; and substantial oversight requirements ranging from withholding funds to statutory mandates to reporting requirements on everything from major acquisitions to ammunition inventories, purchases, and usage.

Mr. Chairman, this bill does not represent a false choice between fiscal responsibility and security—both are urgent priorities, and both are vigorously addressed by this bill.

I must note that DHS did a shameful job at complying with statutory requirements enacted into law in FY13—those failures are assertively addressed in the bill.We are serious about compelling the Department to both enforce the law and comply with the law.

And we will not tolerate further failures in this regard—a point I think we make clear in this bill through 50 percent withholdings to the Department's Executive offices and 50 percent reductions to offices that are delaying the review and submittal of needed, factual information requested by Congress.

On a final and regrettably somber note, my staff and I have been regularly talking with our dear friend Tom Cole and doing all we can to help the good people of his Oklahoma district get back on their feet from the devastating tornado that hit the town of Moore and surrounding communities.

So, in addition to the more than $11.0 billion dollars that is currently in FEMA’s coffers, this bill fully supports the known requirement of $6.2 billion dollars for the Disaster Relief Fund in FY14. These funds, combined with our continued oversight, will help ensure disaster assistance rapidly gets to those who have lost so much.

In closing, let me first thank Ranking Member Price for his statesmanship and partnership.  I sincerely thank him and his dedicated professional staff for their input and notable contributions to the bill.

In addition, let me thank the thoughtful Members of this body—we received program submissions from 222 Members and their input was critical to our oversight work over the past few months as well as the production of this bill.

I know that my staff and I made every effort to accommodate virtually every Member submission we received and that has only made this product stronger.

Finally, I must thank the distinguished Chairman and Ranking Member of the full Committee, Chairman Rogers and Ms. Lowey—their input and support for this bill are genuinely appreciated.

I sincerely believe this bill reflects our best effort to address our Nation’s most urgent needs—security, enforcement, and fiscal restraint. 

I urge my colleagues to support this measure and reserve the balance of my time.