Rogers Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Department of Justice Grantmaking Components (As Prepared)

Apr 25, 2023

Good afternoon.

The Subcommittee will come to order. Without objection, the Chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time.

Welcome to this afternoon’s hearing. I will begin by recognizing myself for an opening statement. I’d like to welcome our witnesses today:

  • Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Mr. Hugh Clements;
  • Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, Ms. Allison Randall; and
  • Chief Financial Officer of the Office of Justice Programs, Ms. Rachel Johnson.

The budget request for the Department of Justice includes $4.9 billion in discretionary budget authority for its grant programs – a 17% increase above the FY23 enacted level.

It has been many years since this Subcommittee held a budget or oversight hearing on DOJ’s grantmaking components. In the meantime, the DOJ grants portion of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill has grown considerably. In fact, there were over 125 grant programs funded in the FY23 Commerce, Justice, Science Act. Some of these programs began as pilot programs or provided seed money to test concepts that emerged from peer-reviewed research. Many lack detailed authority in law, so the Department has been afforded broad discretion in carrying them out.

But for years, grant programs were focused on improving policing, addressing emerging scourges like human trafficking and the opioid crisis, or assisting states in dealing with sex offenders or child victims. Some grant programs at the Department are still focused on supporting the law enforcement officers who are helping to keep our communities safe. I know there is bipartisan support for formula grant programs, like the Byrne JAG program, that provide additional resources to supplement local law enforcement dollars. These programs are important to our local police and sheriffs, and they deserve our support.

Unfortunately, however, many of the grant programs in this budget reflect the priorities of social justice advocacy organizations. With Federal debt surpassing $31 trillion, our nation can’t afford to use grant funding as a means of virtue signaling. In addition, the year-over-year increases we’ve seen in recent years are unsustainable and, in many cases, unsupportable. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Congress to know what it’s paying for in advance.

It is imperative that this Committee ensure that every dollar provided to the grantmaking components is accounted for and is expended in accordance with Congressional intent. 

When Congress leaves so much to the agency’s discretion, it needs to have full confidence that the agency is both up to the task and understands its role in carrying out the will of Congress.

Unfortunately, I have some concerns in this regard.

Today I will have some questions about the Department’s priorities, judgment, and the efficacy of many of the programs Congress has been supporting. Mr. Clements, Ms. Randall, and Ms. Johnson: We appreciate you being here today to answer our questions.

Before we proceed, I would like to recognize Ranking Member Cartwright for any remarks he may wish to make.