Joyce Remarks at FY24 Homeland Security Bill Markup
Welcome to the subcommittee markup of the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
I would like to welcome Full Committee Chairwoman Granger and Ranking Member DeLauro, our Subcommittee Ranking Member Cuellar, and all the Members of the Subcommittee.
Let me begin by thanking the Members of the Subcommittee for their participation and insightful questions during our budget hearings over the last few months. As we put together the bill and report in front of you, we made a concerted effort to address as many Member priorities as possible.
Our job on the Subcommittee is to ensure that the men and women of DHS who work tirelessly on our behalf have the resources and tools they need to protect the homeland. I want to convey our deepest appreciation for everything they do to safeguard our national security.
The bill before us today provides $62.8 billion within the Subcommittee’s budget allocation, and $20.3 billion to respond to major disaster response and recovery activities. The total within the allocation is $2.1 billion above the Fiscal Year 2023 level.
Appropriation bills communicate priorities, and this bill makes strong investments in border security and immigration enforcement.
We have a border security crisis on our hands due to the policy decisions of this Administration over the last two years.
Unlike recent Homeland Security appropriations, and the President’s Request, this bill returns to a traditional border security approach by investing in the tried-and-true 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 because we know walls work.
The bill also provides $496 million to hire additional Border Patrol Agents for an end strength of 22,000.
We also restore $300 million of operational reductions for U.S. Customs and Border Protection that were included in the Administration’s unserious request. We reject these proposed cuts that would continue the failed policies of the past.
We also increased funding levels for new border security technology – so our agents and officers have the latest 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 for non-intrusive inspection equipment at the nation’s ports of entry.
Immigration 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 address the increased illegal migration at the southwest border.
We also include commensurate transportation and removal funding to ensure we can transport migrants to and from detention facilities and remove those that do not have a legal basis to remain in this country.
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.
Computed Tomography machines allow TSA to better screen for explosives and other prohibited items, so this bill provides an additional $35 million to keep that program on track.
To counter the growing threat of Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, the bill provides an additional $335 million to the Coast Guard for Fast Response Cutters.
And to increase our presence in the Artic, 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.
This bill also provides funds for the design of a Great Lakes Icebreaker to keep commerce moving throughout the year in the Great Lakes.
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 the staff on the Subcommittee, both on the Majority and Minority, for their hard work on the bill and report.