Joyce Remarks at FY24 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill Full Committee Markup
Let me begin by thanking the Members of the Committee for their participation in the process of putting the Homeland Security bill together.
We made a concerted effort to address as many Member priorities as possible.
Our job on this Committee is to provide the resources required to keep our nation safe. This bill 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.
The bill before us today provides $62.8 billion within the Subcommittee’s budget allocation, and $20.3 billion for major disaster response and recovery activities.
The total within the allocation is $2.1 billion above the Fiscal Year 2023 level.
Appropriations bills communicate priorities; we must invest in border security and immigration enforcement.
This Administration’s border security crisis has gone on long enough. Their policies and funding priorities have not worked.
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.
First, we provide $2.1 billion for physical barriers with explicit conditions that the funds be put on contract quickly.
We all know that walls work.
The bill also provides $496 million dollars to hire additional Border Patrol Agents for an end strength of 22,000.
We also restore $300 million dollars of operational reductions to U.S. Customs and Border Protection that were included in the Administration’s request. We reject these proposed cuts that would continue the failed policies of the past.
We increase funding levels for border security technology – so our agents and officers have the latest, most effective equipment to detect and deter illegal activity.
Detecting fentanyl and other narcotics that are ravaging our communities is a priority for all of us, so we provide $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.
The bill recommends funding 41,000 detention beds, which is 16,000 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 cross our borders without a legal reason to do so.
This bill provides front-line Transportation Security Officers – who ensure the safety and security of our skies – with a much-needed pay raise to provide compensation parity with other federal employees and stabilize TSA’s workforce.
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 commercial ice breaker to extend U.S. sovereignty and counter Chinese and Russian expansion into the polar regions.
Finally, the bill makes crucial investments in our cyber and critical infrastructure defenses.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has grown rapidly over the last few fiscal years, and this bill slows that growth to allow this relatively new agency to mature.
I want to thank Members for their input and the staff on the subcommittee, both on the majority and minority, for their hard work on the bill and report.
Madam Chair, I yield back.