Joyce Remarks During Floor Consideration of H.R. 4367, The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act

Sep 27, 2023

I want to begin by thanking the Chairwoman of the Full Committee, Ms. Granger, for her leadership and her tireless efforts to bring these Appropriations bills to the floor. 

I also want to thank the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, my good friend Mr. Cuellar, who has worked with us in good faith on the bill, despite some disagreements on policy.  

And lastly, I have enjoyed my time sitting next to the Ranking Member of the Full Committee, the Gentlelady from Connecticut, not once, but twice in the last few days.

The bill before us today provides $62.8 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, an increase of $2.1 billion above the Fiscal Year 2023 level.

In addition, the bill also includes $20.3 billion for disaster response and recovery activities—including to support communities after the devastating wildfires in Maui and Hurricane Idalia.

One of the most pressing challenges this country faces is the border security crisis that has raged under the Biden Administration.

Two million migrants illegally crossed the border each of the last two years. We are on track to exceed that level this year.  

Just yesterday alone, there were nearly 11,000 migrant encounters. Let me repeat that – nearly 11,000 migrant encounters. In one day.

Regardless of your definition of border security, it’s clear that the policies of this Administration are not working.

The reason is obvious— the White House is sending a message to cartels and migrants that the border is open and there will be no consequences if you cross illegally.

This bill forces the Biden Administration to do what it has not and will not do on its own—act to address the border security crisis.

The funding and policy provisions included in this bill are in lockstep with the provisions in H.R. 2—which together will put us on a path to securing the border.

Unlike recent Homeland Security appropriations bills, and the President’s request, this bill returns to a tried-and-true border security approach by investing in methods to both secure the border and deter those who have no legitimate basis for entry.

The bill includes $2.1 billion for physical barriers with explicit conditions that the funds be put on contract quickly.

The Chief of the Border Patrol and other border security professionals have confirmed time and time again that walls work.

The bill also provides nearly $500 million dollars to hire more Border Patrol Agents to reach an end strength of 22,000 agents.

The bill increases funding levels for border security technology so our agents and officers have the latest, most effective equipment to detect and deter illegal activity.

Stopping fentanyl and other narcotics that are ravaging our communities is a priority for all of us, so the bill provides $305 million dollars for non-intrusive inspection equipment at the nation’s ports of entry.

Detention is a deterrent to those who seek to abuse our immigration system and falsely claim asylum.

As a result, the bill provides funding for 41,500 detention beds, which is 16,500 more than this Administration requested, to ensure ICE has adequate capacity to detain those with final removal orders or who pose a risk to public safety, as well as migrants who illegally cross our borders. 

To counter the growing threat of Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, the bill provides an additional $335 million dollars to the Coast Guard for Fast Response Cutters.

And to increase our presence in the Arctic, the bill provides funds for the Coast Guard to acquire a commercially available ice breaker to extend U.S. sovereignty and counter Chinese and Russian expansion into the polar regions.

Simply put—the bill before us today ensures that the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who work tirelessly on our behalf, have the resources and tools they need to protect this great nation.

Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.