Hearing Of Homeland Security Subcommittee Of The Senate Appropriations Committee - FY 2010 Budget For The Department Of Homeland Security
Chaired By: Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Witness: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
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SEN. BYRD: I call this subcommittee to order. (Sounds gavel.)
Welcome, Madame Secretary. I welcome you to this challenging and important job.
As you may know, I at first opposed the creation of a department of homeland security. And I'll tell you why I did that. I figured that it would be a management nightmare, a management nightmare. But, since the department was established I have been a strong advocate for giving that department all the resources that it needs to succeed.
The Bush administration's official position was that the department could be created at no cost -- no cost -- to the taxpayer. Now, this translated into a department with aging assets and an inability to be nimble in preparing for future threats.
In response, Congress -- that's us -- us -- you believe it? Do you believe it? That's us. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. In response, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, increased homeland security spending by an average of $2 billion per year -- $2 billion per year. That's $2 for every -- what am I trying to say? --
SEN. BYRD: -- every minute since Jesus Christ was born. You got that? $2 for every minute -- every 60 seconds, since Jesus Christ was born.
These increases were invested in border security, chemical security, port security, transit security, aviation security, and cyber security. And we ensured that state and local partners in Homeland Security received adequate resources to equip and train our first responders.
Now, these investments have paid off, making our citizens more secure, making us better prepared for any disaster. So, we have work to do -- much more work to do.
I am pleased to see that President Obama has sent us a budget that backs up his promises with real resources. Now, having said that, there are some gaps in the budget, and we're going to explore those gaps today. And we'll work with you, Madame Secretary, to identify responsible ways to narrow those gaps.
In 2005 I, Robert Carlyle Byrd, B-y-r-d, lead a bipartisan effort to improve the security on our borders and to enforce our immigration laws. We increased the number of Border Patrol agents and detention beds. And we provided funds for fencing, vehicle barriers, and new technology on our Southwest -- please say it again, say it again -- on our Southwest border. We also provided funds for Fugitive Operations Teams, the Secure Communities Programs, and for Worksite Enforcement.
Madame Secretary, I have read your testimony. I look forward to your continuing and expanding these efforts. Madame Secretary, I'm aware -- I know that you are aware of the recent devastation from flooding in southern West Virginia -- that's God's country. Last night Governor Manchin requested a federal disaster declaration. Today I sent the president a letter urging his approval. And I urge you -- I urge you -- to recommend to the president that he approve this request as soon as possible so that federal funding can begin flowing to West Virginians who are in need of help.
Madame Secretary, you lead a department of 208,000 men and women. That's a small army -- a rather large army. You lead a department of 208,000 men and women who are on the front line every day protecting our citizens. We commend those employees for their service and we welcome you to the subcommittee today.
I also welcome Senator George Voinovich, our new ranking member. Welcome, Senator George Voinovich. We are proud to have you -- be with you today. George Voinovich follows in the footsteps of my good friends and able colleagues, Senator Thad Cochran and Senator Judd Gregg. I look forward to working with all of our subcommittee members this year.
And following Senator Voinovich's opening remarks, we will hear from Secretary Napolitano. Then we will hear from each member, who would be recognized, by seniority, for up to seven minutes -- seven minutes for remarks and questions.
I now recognize Senator Voinovich for any opening remarks as he may wish to make. Senator, Voinovich.
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH): Thank you very much, Chairman Byrd. I must say that I'm honored to serve as the ranking member of this subcommittee. You and I have worked together over the years on matters that have been mutually beneficial to both the State of West Virginia -- our neighbor --
SEN. BYRD: Yes.
SEN. VOINOVICH: -- and my state, the State of Ohio.
SEN. BYRD: Yes.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Madame Secretary, I'm glad to see you, and look forward to your insights on the priorities of your department during this consideration of your budget. I enjoyed meeting with you in my office, and I'm pleased that you're willing to serve our country at a very critical time.
And I think I share Senator Byrd's concern that you have an unbelievable management task when you're talking about 208,000 people, 22 agencies that still haven't been really brought together. And you're in the situation where you got to take it to the next phase so that it gets done the way we anticipated it in the beginning. Although, I agree with Senator Byrd -- I wasn't real happy with the way they put everything together. But, it's done, and so we're going to do our best to support it.
SEN. BYRD: We're going to do that, man.
SEN. VOINOVICH: For fiscal year 2010, the president's total discretionary request for the department is 42.7 (billion dollars ?). This is a 6.3 increase from the fiscal year 2009 appropriations level.
SEN. BYRD: 42.7 what?
SEN. VOINOVICH: It's an increase over the 209 (sic). Excluding emergency supplemental appropriations, including emergency supplemental funding, it's almost a 1 percent decrease from below the current year level. In other words, when you take in the supplemental you're in about 1 percent below that.
SEN. BYRD: Shame. Shame. Shame.
SEN. VOINOVICH: This is also a 42.3 percent increase since the first Appropriations act that funded the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2004. A 42.3 percent increase in just seven years. We are quickly approaching the time when we will have doubled the resources available to your department.
Within this dramatic rise in funding over the past four years, we've devoted a significant portion of the increase to Border Security.
And as a governor of one of the nation's Southwest border states, you are in a unique position of having been on the front lines of this issue and I think will be able to offer advice and guidance based on your personal experience, in terms of what's going to work and what you need to get it done.
This budget proposes to fund U.S. Customs and Border Protection at $10 billion. Taking into account all the reorganizations of the Department that were executed over the years, we're talking about a 93.3 percent increase from Fiscal Year 2004. This is gigantic. This budget proposes funding of $5.4 billion for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Again, we're talking about an increase of 120 percent increase since 2004.
I've often wondered if there was another way we could secure the border and deal with the 11 million, or so million immigrants. And, as we've talked in the office, I really believe that without a comprehensive immigration reform plan, if we plan to enforce our current laws, it will require a further investment of $272 billion and 31 years to locate and remove the estimated 11 million unauthorized aliens in the United States. And this is something I'm -- and I want to talk to you about as we go through this period of time.
It's important to note that the fiscal year 2010 budget proposes adequate resources to pay for the border initiatives funded over the past four fiscal years, and commits to meeting the goal of 20,000 Border Patrol agents this December, and to maintaining that level through fiscal year 2010. And, again, -- (inaudible) -- 20,000 the right number? Should it be more?
As you know, I've also been interested in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government during my time here in the Senate. And, for the Department, this was an area that was immediately -- that you identified right away that needed to be done. You've got some good people working with you. I've seen them all and I think you've got a -- we've got a good team that you put together.
In addition to hearing about your budget initiatives for fiscal year 2010, I hope to hear your thoughts on a number of issues facing the department, including the progress being made to secure our nation's border and prepare this country for future emergencies.
In closing, Madame Secretary, there's a tremendous focus on the Southwest border, but the Northern border also poses challenges to enforcing our laws while facilitating trade. And I'd hope to invite you one of these days to visit Ohio to gain a better understanding of the unique aspects of a state on the Northern border, with no land- border with Canada, only coastline.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BYRD: Thank you. Thank you very much. And when you visit in Ohio, West Virginia is just across the river.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's right.
SEN. BYRD: So, you'll come there too.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
SEN. BYRD: (Laughs.)
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That would be great.
SEN. BYRD: All right.
Now, Madame Secretary, please proceed.
SEN. NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Voinovich, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the Department of Homeland Security portion of President Obama's budget proposal for FY 2010. The proposed total budget for the Department is $55.1 billion, which includes $42.7 billion in appropriated funding.
DHS performs a broad range of activities across a single driving mission -- to secure America from the entire range of threats that we face. The Department's leadership in the past several weeks in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak only proves the breadth of the Department's portfolio, as well as the need to make DHS a stronger, more effective department.
This budget strengthens our efforts in what I see as the five main mission areas where we need to focus in order to secure the American people:
First, guarding against terrorism -- the founding purpose and perennial top priority of the Department. Second, securing our borders -- an effort even more urgent as the United States looks to do its part to counter a rise in cartel violence in Mexico. Third, smart and effective enforcement of our Immigration laws -- we want to facilitate legal immigration and pursue enforcement against those who violate the Immigration law. Fourth, improving our preparation for, response to, and recovery from disasters -- not just hurricanes and tornadoes but also unexpected situations like the H1N1 flu.
Pause a moment there, Mr. Chairman, and mention that I spoke with Governor Manchin, and also Kentucky Governor Beshear yesterday with respect to the flooding that has occurred, and we are working with them on their emergency declaration application so that we can move those through.
SEN. BYRD: How much did you say your budget is?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: In appropriated funds, it's $42.7 billion. Total funds, it's $55.1 billion.
SEN. BYRD: That's 55 dollars and 10 cents for every minute since Jesus Christ was born, right?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chair, I haven't done the math but it sounds pretty close.
SEN. BYRD: (Laughs.) It's correct. If anybody wants to challenge it, raise your hand. (Laughs.)
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I'm going to take it as good as gold.
The fifth major mission area for us, after Preparation and Response to Recovery from Disaster, and challenge for us, is to create one Department of Homeland Security -- to unify these 22 agencies so that they work together to ensure that we are operating always at full strength.
In addition to these five main mission areas, there are three approaches for the Department which cross-cut everything that we do:
First among those is to expand our partnerships -- our partnerships with states, with cities, with tribal governments who are the first detectors and the first responders.
Second, to bolster our science and technology portfolio -- investing in new technologies that can increase our capabilities while being cognizant of interests such as privacy protection that must be taken into account.
And, third, the maximize efficiency -- through the Efficiency Review process that we launched in March we hope to ensure that every security dollar is spent in its most effective way.
This budget adheres to the president's major reform goals: government efficiency, transparency and cohesion, and will play a major part in bringing about a culture of responsibility and fiscal discipline within the Department. The Department's budget request was based on alignment with the Department's priorities, and the programs were assessed based on effectiveness and on risk.
First, with respect to budget priorities, to guard against terrorism this budget proposal includes $121 million to fund research for new technologies that detect explosives in public places and transportation networks. It has $87 million for new measures to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks from attack. It enhances information-sharing among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement.
With respect to border security, the budget proposal includes $116 million to deploy additional staff and technology to the Southwest border to disrupt south-bound smuggling of drugs and bulk cash, which will help combat child violence. It also provides $40 million for smart security technology funding on the Northern border to expand and integrate our surveillance systems there.
To ensure smart, effective enforcement of our immigration laws, this budget proposal includes $112 million to strengthen E-Verify to help employers maintain a legal workforce. A total of $198 million for the Secure Communities Program, which helps state, local and tribal law enforcement target criminal aliens. And it improves security and facilitates trade and tourism through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, $145 million; and US-VISIT, $344 million.
To help Americans prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, this budget proposal includes doubling the funds, from $210 million to $420 million, to increase the number of front line firefighters. It includes a $600 million increase to the Disaster Relief Fund to help individuals and communities impacted by disasters.
And it strengthens pre-disaster hazard mitigation efforts to reduce injury, loss of life and destruction of property.
And finally, to unify the Department this budget proposal includes $79 million for the consolidation of Department headquarters while we bring 35 different offices together, generating significant savings in the long-run. It also includes $200 million to consolidate and unify our IT infrastructure and bring all of DHS into the same system.
Mr. Chairman, in my few months as secretary, I have seen a number of remarkable accomplishments, in addition to challenges at the Department of Homeland Security. I have seen this Department's potential. I believe we are on the path toward realizing it. We aim to do even better at achieving this country's security mission and this budget will help the Department do just that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope that my more complete statement can be included in the record.
SEN. BYRD: Without objection, that will be done. And I thank you, Madame Secretary.
Now, when President Obama worked with the Congress to enact the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act he -- President Obama, stressed the need to provide funding for programs that would create jobs and make long-term investments in the growth of the economy.
He did not talk about using the stimulus bill simply to free-fund fiscal year 2010 activities. Therefore, I was distressed to see that the president has proposed to cut -- c-u-t -- cut funding for over $750 million of programs in fiscal year 2010 that we funded in the stimulus bill. We included funding in stimulus bill for fire station construction, port and transit security, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, for Coast Guard facilities, and for deploying checkpoint security equipment at our airports.
We argued that these investments would create over 5,000 jobs while improving security. I simply don't understand. No, I don't understand why the president -- this president, your president, my president, our president -- has proposed these reductions. I don't understand why.
I cannot fathom reducing funds for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program by $100 million when the unemployment rate is above 8 percent -- you get that? -- and continues to go up. I cannot fathom reducing fire, port or transit grants of $485 million when there is a continuing need to improve our security. I do not accept the notion that these cuts are justified by the availability of stimulus funds, which, in most cases, were provided for different purposes.
I have a question for you now. I'm going to listen to your answer. Will you work with me to identify ways to restore these funds?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, of course we will work with you and your staff on this budget as it moves through the process.
SEN. BYRD: All right.
On August 28, 2008 there was a chemical explosion at the Bayer Crop Science chemical plant in Institute, West Virginia, just outside Charleston. The explosion took the life of -- the lives of two workers and it sickened several first responders to the incident.
The explosion occurred in a unit where the chemical company makes MIC -- you might say "mick." MIC is an extremely toxic chemical, and most notably associated with the catastrophic leak that occurred in 1984 at a similar pesticide plant in Bhopal, India killing over 4,000 people.
The West Virginia chemical facility includes a tank that can hold up to -- can hold up to 40,000 pounds of MIC. That storage tank is located 50 to 75 feet -- 50 (feet) to 75 feet from the location of the August explosion. That's about as far as it is from here to your table or the -- (inaudible) --
Needless to say, the explosion caused a resurgence of anxiety about the chemical industry in the Kanawah Valley -- that great Kanawah Valley.
After the explosion, the company failed to provide critical information to the first responders about the nature of the explosion. In the months -- during the months since the explosion, we learned that no one federal agency is responsible for the safety of chemical plants.
Among the agencies with responsibility are your national programs and protection directorate the Coast Guard, the EPA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the Chemical Safety Board. Now this leaves us -- that leaves you me -- with the classic Washington question -- who is in charge here? Who is in charge here? Can you answer that question? Will you look into this matter and see if there is a better way for our government to secure our chemical facilities and investigate it after accidents? Do you care to respond?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Yes, we will look into that particular accident, and sympathies to the families and workers and first responders involved.
Second, we are in the process and have been issuing the first set of rules governing chemical and chemical storage facilities -- they're known as CFATs -- and working with the private sector all over the country on rules that allow us to have greater knowledge about what is contained in these various plants around the country which has multiple uses, including forewarning of first responders as to what they are dealing with.
SEN. BYRD: Thank you Madame Secretary. Senator Voinovich.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Thank you Mr. Chairman. As you know, the administration has worked hard to break the cycle of requesting emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet no one has suggested fixing the way we budget for our natural disasters. Now, using a five-year average and excluding any large-scale disasters has condemned us to a guaranteed cycle of using emergency supplementals to fund disasters; last year alone we provided almost $12 billion in supplemental appropriations.
The budget request in front of us includes 2 billion (dollars) for the disaster relief fund. According to FEMA, just to pay for the declared disasters we have in the books today, the disaster relief funds needs 5.8 billion (dollars) in fiscal year 2010, not $2 billion. That's a gap to 3.8 billion (dollars) in your request already and hurricane season's just around the corner.
And the question I've got is when are we really going to forthright about putting money aside for disasters, because you don't have enough money in this budget to take care of the commitments that have already been made, and we know probably after August sometime we'll probably have other requests coming in, so that means another emergency, another supplemental, I'd be interested in how you're going to deal with this.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Senator. You're right, this budget request follows a process by which the request for the DRF is $2 billion which was based on a five-year rolling average. The practice has been to come in later and get separate appropriations that are almost disaster specific on the theory that it is difficult to predict at the beginning in the budget process what you're actually going to need by the end of the next fiscal year.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Yeah, but in this particular case, you know that it's inadequate right now by $3.8 billion because you're already committed. So --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We're more than willing to work with you and the committee if there's a better way to fund disaster relief. But under the circumstances and given where we stand, we thought this was the best thing to put forward for the committee's consideration.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Okay. The House marked up its version of the Fiscal Year 2009 War and Pandemic Influenza Supplemental Appropriations Bill. And they put in there $250 million for the National Guard. The question I have is this, is the National Guard essential, this $250 million supposedly goes to the Department of Defense and they're going to hire people to go and I guess work on the borders and we allowed that to happen -- the states to your -- I'm sure your state was involved.
The question was we need the National Guard until we get the border people on board. So we have now 20,000 border agents. And the question is do we need the National Guard to supplement our border patrol in order to secure the border? And if we do, how long are we going to need them? And is it more -- would it be more prudent for us to hire more border guards than to put the money into the National Guard to, you know, have other responsibilities in their respective states?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Senator, your memory is correct, I did call for the National Guard at the border. I was the first governor to do so. And that led to the creation of something called Operation Jumpstart which involved 6,000 Guard to help with facilities, construction, back office work. It was designed to really free up border patrol officers between the ports of entry so that they could increase their interdiction work for illegal immigration. That project lasted two years and it was very helpful and very effective.
The marker in the supplemental, the $250 million (dollars) is to give us flexibility to look at whether there is another role for the Guard at the border in light of the increased drug related violence in the northern states of Mexico, so that as we look at the operation and what options are available to us without making a final decision, there at least is a designated sum that would be available for that.
SEN. VOINOVICH: So at this stage in the game you're not confident that with the additional border patrol agents you're going to be able to tackle the problem that we've got right now?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I think I would put it another way which is to say that we want to be sure that the border patrol agents can keep focused on their work between the ports of entry and that we may need some backup capacity to deal with this particular situation in Mexico.
SEN. VOINOVICH: So you may not use the -- the Defense Department may not use the $250 million if you don't think it's necessary?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We will reach -- it's a marker. It's to hold money so that we have the option to use it. Yes.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Well I'd like to have you keep us informed about what's going on with that money.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Pleased to do so, yes sir.
SEN. VOINOVICH: We talked about this, I was very much involved in the visa waiver legislation and now it's kind of in limbo because of the fact that we're supposed to develop some air biometric air exit. And I noticed that there is no money in your budget to implement that program. We have two pilot tests that are going on, one with border patrol and TSA. I talked to some border patrol people, they said TSA should do it.
We're not interested in it, that's local opinion. But what I'm concerned about is that until this is in place, this program, visa waiver is as I say it's going to be in limbo. And I'd just like to find out from you when you think that you're going to be in a position to go forward with this and if you are, if you don't have any money in your budget, how are you going to take care of buying equipment that you're going to need whether TSA uses it or the border patrol?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Senator, there are two pilots, I believe they are scheduled to terminate in July so that we can study what happened. In my view having been at the department now 100 and some odd days and looking at all of the infrastructure we have in place now to keep track of people entering the country, one of our large gaps is we have not determined nor paid for what it costs to know when they leave the country and therefore we haven't really completed the loop, the system that we need to have. And I believe it deserves a kind of more general look than a particular budget item. So we are, and I have asked the staff at the department to really think about an exit measurement strategy that would be affordable and employable. These two pilots I think may get us there at least for air exit.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Okay. I --
SEN. BYRD: Senator Voinovich, your time is up. But I'll give you an opportunity to ask another question if you wish.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Well it's just a follow up. Please keep me informed on this but -- because this is not only for security but it's also a big public diplomacy issue. And I talked to the Secretary of State about it, a lot of countries want to get in and now it's on hold.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, sir. Yeah. Absolutely.
SEN. BYRD: I stated earlier that we would proceed on the basis of seniority. Senator Murray.
SEN. PATTT MURRAY (D-WA): Mr. Chairman, I greatly appreciate that consideration. Senator Lautenberg has been here since 2:00 and I would defer to him with your acquiescence since he's been here --
SEN. BYRD: Thank you, Madame. Senator Lautenberg.
SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): First, I want to thank Senator Murray for being so gracious. All of us have time pressures but I will not refuse to take the courtesy that she's offered.
And Madame Secretary, we're pleased to see you. We think that you were kind of the ideal person to take this job. You may not agree with that after you've been on the job a bit more but -- (laughter) -- we're comforted by your experience and your determination. We urge you to continue.
My state, the state of New Jersey has a high degree of vulnerability. We have a two mile distance between the airport, Newark Airport and our very busy port of New York/New Jersey, and the FBI has declared that that's the most dangerous two mile target in the country for a terrorist attack. So when we look at a couple of the cuts that have been taken very frankly we look at them with a degree of deep concern.
The administration requests $250 million each, port security grants and rail security grants. And that represents a 38 percent cut from last year's funding. The port security grants were provided in economic -- in the Economic Recovery Act and they were intended to supplement funds provided through the regular budgetary process. And frankly I'm a bit, at a bit of a loss to understand why it's happening and I will not ask you to contradict what's being done. But I would bring the fact that we have this vulnerability and in our area.
9/11 took place, 700 people from the state of New Jersey perished that day. And we find ourselves -- even with the responsibility of 9/11 for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security -- find ourselves somewhat bewildered by this choice for cuts. So I throw that out to you as something to think about and we can talk about it some more. I will call on you to review it.
In recent months, there have been a number of pirate attacks on U.S. flagships off the coast of Somalia. The Transportation Security Administration requires federal marshal -- air marshals -- to fly on a high risk international domestic flight. But just yesterday, the Coast Guard announced the directive that essentially states that U.S. flag vessels should consider the use of armed private security guards, again placing the onus on the security industry.
You know, when I look at an American flag and it flies from a ship, I see that as a piece of sovereign territory; it's the kind of ship that brought me home from my service in the military. And I don't understand why such a distinguished heroic figure like General Petraeus says that the private sector ought to invest more in its own security.
If we can't count on the Navy to jump in here at times, or other branches of the military, to protect our fleet, so maritime, Marine cargo, then I think we're suffering from a delusion. And I would hope that you would agree with us that we might take on the responsibility of protecting these vessels when the cargo they are carrying in this area, oddly enough, is humanitarian cargo and military cargo. Those are the two that's almost 100 percent of the cargo that's carried there. And I don't know how we can turn our back on it. And I would ask whether there's anything your department would like to add to the understanding of what's taking place.
Again I'm not going to press you now. Your department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, you're responsible for helping to prevent the transfer of sensitive technology from the United States to hostile nations. Now given Iran's nuclear ambitions, what is ICE doing to help stop Iran from having those materials available to it? That's the question, I'd say the easiest one.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, thank you, because I'd be happy to respond on the port security grants and others, but we'll work with you and get you that information that you need as the budget moves towards the mark-up, Senator. But we are, we have several initiatives with respect to the illegal export of contraband. It would be contraband -- to countries that can't get it, and particularly to Iran. And I'll be happy to inform you or giving you the staffing in how we are doing those initiatives. But we've had some success there I must say.
SEN. LAUTENBERG: We'll talk to you about that. In pre- confirmation hearing questions you said, I quote you, "I strongly support the idea that Homeland Security grants must be allocated in a manner informed by risk." I remind everybody that the 9/11 Commission in its report on what took place on 9/11 was very specific. Yet the President's request for the Urban Area Security Initiative, called UASI, falls $163 million below the authorized level for 2010. UASI is a grant program totally based on risk and consistent with the 9/11 Commissions recommendation.
Why here are we seeing this kind of a reduction?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: First of all, a couple of things, Senator. One is, with respect to many of these grant programs, not specifically UASI, but there was money in the Stimulus Bill for that, and Chairman Byrd disagrees that that should be able to be counted against the 2010 number, but there was some reasoning there.
Secondly, you are right, we have adopted within our granting process something we call "cost to capability," our phrase for really evaluating risk. And if you look at the overall grant proposals and add them all tighter, UASI plus all of the other grants, you'll see that the department is actually giving you a real grant funding number that we think can beneficially be used by the recipients this year.
SEN. LAUTENBERG: Will it reach last year's, the current budget's level?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It depends on the grantees. I'll share with you, Senator, one issue --
SEN. LAUTENBERG: I'm comforted by that.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: And one issue we're going to need to confront, Senator, is some of the communities are talking to us about matches. Most of our grants require some form of local or state matching funds, and with their budgets stretched the way they are they are looking for waivers of the match. That may be something that we need to bring up with the committee at some point.
SEN. LAUTENBERG: Thank you.
SEN. BYRD: The Senator's time is up. Senator Cochran.
SEC. THAD COCHRAN (R-MS): Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased to join you in welcoming the secretary to this subcommittee hearing to review the budget request of the Department of Homeland Security.
Madam Secretary, I was very pleased that one of your first initiatives was to visit the Gulf Coast areas that were so severely damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I know that Governor Haley Barbour appreciates your attention to the problems that remain in Mississippi and Louisiana in particular, which continue to suffer from the serious need to rebuild and recover from this terrible disaster. We look forward to working with you and the department to help ensure that the continuing needs in the Gulf Coast region are met.
I have a few questions, some of which I will submit for the record. But I would like to specifically express my appreciation to FEMA and the department for the assistance it provided through the disaster case management pilot program for temporary housing. This program has helped nonprofit organizations in our state reduce the number of families remaining in temporary FEMA housing due to Hurricane Katrina from nearly 8,000 in August 2008 to just 2,000 to date.
But in the case of these Hurricane Katrina victims, housing case management continues to be required to assist some families in returning to permanent housing. I hope you will work with our governor and help explore the possibility of further federal assistance for this purpose.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, yes, we are working with both states on this. This is the last remaining portion of FEMA housing associated with Katrina. FEMA has actually placed well over 100,000 families now, and between the two states there are about 5,000, maybe a few more, left. Each of the families has had opportunities or options presented to them for a substitute for the FEMA housing. We have offered as well to Louisiana, I don't know about Mississippi and I'll follow up. But I know we offered Louisiana caseworkers, whether they needed money for more caseworkers, because the case management is supposed to derive from the state offices not from the federal offices. Louisiana turned down that offer. So we proceed.
But unfortunately, while my sympathies go to these last remaining occupants of the FEMA housing, it is several years past the actual deadline that was supposed to be closing, and it's time now to begin closing this chapter.
SEC. COCHRAN: On another subject, I want to bring to your attention or invite you r attention to the strict training and certification requirements that are placed on fire departments who wish to apply for Assistance to Firefighters grants. It leaves small volunteer fire departments with little ability to compete for these funds. These are primarily rural departments providing service which are in areas where there are far more land area; they are often in more need of resources than their urban counterparts. In our state, professional fire departments are even advocating for resources to help the volunteer departments in outlying areas because cooperation with these departments is often critical to their successful missions.
If you believe that the current distribution of Assistance to Firefighter grants is inequitable or should include volunteer fire departments, I hope you will explore something akin to a set-aside that would allow the use of these funds and grants to send those firefighters to training sessions with the more urban and better- organized professional fire departments.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Senator. That's the first time I've heard that suggestion made, and it's an interesting one, and we will pursue it.
SEC. COCHRAN: Thank you very much.
SEN. BYRD: Senator Murray.
SEN. MURRAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let the record show, I offered Senator Tester to go ahead of me. He declined. I think he had something back in his office he doesn't want to do. But he graciously said no.
SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): Just wanted to hear your questions, Senator.
SEN. MURRAY: Yes. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for being here today. First of all before I ask my questions, I do want to say to you that you have some great people working in your agency from Coast Guard to FEMA. Folks -- we've had a lot of weather-related disasters in my state, and these people have saved lives and been there time and again. So I just want to remind all of us that some really amazing people work for you, and they make a huge difference in our states. And I appreciate it.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
SEN. MURRAY: I did want to start by thanking you for finally budgeting some adequate levels of funding for the Pacific Northwest National Lab which is in my state. That agency department has a large portfolio of research and touches on almost every aspect of your department's priorities, from cargo import security to border security projects.
And unfortunately PNNL has had to build some new facilities or modify some of their current ones at the 300 area at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to accommodate about 600 staff who are going to be forced out of the current offices that they are in in order to accommodate the clean-ups that are ongoing at Hanford. Any disturbance of those facilities or disruption of the construction schedule will have a significant impact on those agencies that are under your jurisdiction. So because of that DHS Science and Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with DOE to budget funding for PNNL. And every year we have had to fight DOE, and this year we do not. Thank you very much for including that in your budget. Our chairman has been most generous to provide it within our appropriations process here. But I appreciate that, and I hope I have your commitment to continue to budget that $12 million for the PNNL Lab in the budget you send us.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes.
SEN. MURRAY: Thank you very much. The second topic I wanted to bring up was the 2010 Olympics in the northern border. The Winter Olympic games are going to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia. It's less than a year away. We've got 7,000 athletes from 80 countries who are going to be participating, a quarter million people will be attending those games, we have about 10,000 reporters and members of the media who are going to be there to report and televise that up to about 3 billion people.
These games are obviously in Canada, but I think most people don't realize how significant that is to my state of Washington. The distance from downtown Vancouver to our border, which is central to the games, is about the same distance from Salt Lake City to Park City and 2002 Winter Olympics. So we've been very involved in the key transportation access system and the security systems relating to that.
And also I need to mention that Whatcom County where the border crossing is there is the third busiest crossing with Canada which is our largest trading partner. We've had the department and representatives from DHS, Customs, Border Protection, Immigration, Customs Service, FEMA been working with our state for a long time on preparing for this. And last year our chairman was very supportive in funding the 2010 Olympic Coordination Center in Bellingham, Washington, which is right on the border. And I am happy to tell you today that project is going well, and we are working very hard to make sure we've got the security in place for a very significant event less than a year away. And I just wanted to remind us of all of that and your department and your agencies that will be involved, and I extend to you a warm invitation to come and visit the northern border, specifically as we prepare for the 2010 Olympics, to see the challenges that we have for that.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Senator, and that would be a lovely invitation to accept, particularly for August in Washington, DC, I suspect.
SEN. MURRAY: Perfect timing.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: But we are and do have personnel that are working on both sides of the border in preparation for the games. So we definitely have it on our radar screen.
SEN. MURRAY: Okay. And we talked with Secretary Chertoff before about maintaining that Coordination Center following the Olympics. So I'd like to have a conversation with you in the future about the possibility of doing that as well.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Absolutely.
SEN. MURRAY: Okay. Well, we will have much more to talk about as that gets closer, but I just wanted to make sure that was still on your radar.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Absolutely.
SEN. MURRAY: The final question I wanted to bring up was, I was disappointed to see that the President's budget didn't contain the second half of the funding required to retrofit the Coast Guard icebreaker Polish Star. Two of the Coast Guard's icebreakers, Polish Star and Polish Sea, have now exceeded their 30-year intended service lives. And Polish Star is now not operational, and it's been in caretaker status since 2006. The third icebreaker, the Healy, is primarily a research vessel and doesn't offer the same capabilities as the Polish Sea and the Polish Star. We are watching as Russia and Canada and Norway and other countries have invested a lot of money right now in their icebreaker capabilities. Not surprisingly the changing global climate has increased the possibilities of a vessel like this with oil and gas exploration and a lot of research that's very important. And I am very concerned that if the United States doesn't have the proper tools and doesn't have a presence, we are going to be behind a lot of people very quickly.
I know that the Coast Guard Commandant Allen has been very forceful about this need. And last year in fact Congress appropriated $30.3 million of about $63 million, about half of it, to retrofit the Polish Star. So I was surprised to see that the Coast Guard didn't include any of the funds in its spend plans for the Recovery Act during the budget to finish this project, and wondered if you could respond.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes. And we can get back to you with further detail on that. But the view is, with the additional money that the Congress appropriated last year and the backed up funds that that retrofitter, it's in dry dock right now.
SEN. MURRAY: Correct.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Continue --
SEN. MURRAY: The project is ongoing.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: -- while we examine more generally, Senator, what is needed for that capacity for the Coast Guard moving forward, and rather than rush that decision process which is long-term capital process for the Coast Guard, we are really looking at what is, in light of all of the myriad missions the Coast Guard is being asked to perform, what we should come to the Congress for in the '011 budget.
SEN. BYRD: Senator Brownback.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Secretary. Glad to have you here. You've got a big job, and Godspeed to you on getting it done.
I want to talk with you about two areas, if I can do that in the time we've got, on the NBAF facility that DHS and USDA will be doing constructing in Kansas, and then also on the flood map.
I was looking -- you know obviously we want to get this facility moving forward. I know you want to get the facility moving forward. The zoonotic diseases keep coming, the H1N1 is a zoonotic disease. So we want to move this forward as fast as we can. Yet we've got this kind of dance we've got to do on the movement on Plum Island and then the money to be able to move this on forward.
I was looking in your budget, and I wanted to get this, make sure I'm clear on this, and to clarify on this because it comes to my attention and the CBO baseline scored the sale of Plum Island in FY 2015. And if that's the case, there will be a large problem to be able to get the offsetting collections by 2011 to start the funding on the construction of the facility.
So to clarify for this committee and for the CBO, do you intend to sell Plum Island in calendar year 2010 and use the proceeds for the sales in offsetting collection for the funding of construction of the NBAF in FY 2011?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, again, I'll get back to you on that. I don't know if we are dependent on the sale of Plum Island in 2010, but what we are trying to do is make sure that there is a funding stream for NBAF so that as the state of Kansas puts in its own resources that facility continues. We are still awaiting I think it's a GAO report about moving the facility with respect to one or two of the diseases on the mainland as opposed to Plum Island. We expect that shortly. Everybody that's looked at that issue has concluded that that shouldn't be a problem and that Kansas is a very good place to place the NBAF facility. But some of those things have to happen as well, so we're working on the funding stream and making sure we take care of any safety concerns that might arise.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Okay. And if you could get back to myself, more importantly to CBO, because of the way that statute is written so that we do have a funding stream to move forward in 2011. And maybe just to get at that, I notice in the budget tables for future year expenditures for NBAF construction you lumped the 2011 to 2014 into the same column. And I know this is a lot of detail, but I do want to get it out because it's a very particular issue on NBAF. And just to clarify, do you intend to budget the entire $584 million for the 2011 FY budget for NBAF? Do you know, are you familiar with that particular line?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I'm very familiar with NBAF because of our conversations and some meetings I had in Kansas earlier this year. (pause) It depends, sir, on a number of things whether we actually plug that full number in 2011 or not. So what I would like to do is keep you and your office informed as we move along, as we're keeping the state of Kansas informed as well.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Okay. Just, obviously I think it is something that matters, has some urgency to it, and needs to move forward as quickly as we can. The state is prepared to move forward, is moving forward as rapidly as it can. And so to the degree that the agency can move forward and make decisions on this it would be I think to the security of the country a very high priority item. But also I think it can move forward on a good basis, on a rapid basis, so we can get the facility up and going.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, I couldn't agree more. We actually have a team of people working with the state of Kansas and all the players on this particular project, so we've made it a high priority within our department as well.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Good. Thank you very much.
I also want to note to you, and this is a flood map issue, that actually I would think being from Arizona you would recognize this. And the reason I raise it is, it's coming up in my state, but I've got to think it's coming up in a lot of places. Garden City, Kansas, has just been told that there's a region in their city where 800 to 1,000 houses are now in the flood plain that haven't been in the flood plain previously. It's in the western part of the state, fairly dry, too often very dry. And they built two drainage ditches in the city to connect with a dry river that doesn't have water in it. And for four different iterations of flood insurance maps they've not said this is in a flood plain, and now they're saying that it is.
And the odd thing is, if they hadn't been responsible and built the man-made drainage ditches, it wouldn't be in a flood plain.
So I've said to them, "Well, I guess we should fill in the drainage ditches. Is that the idea?"
"Well, no, you'll probably get more flooding."
I said, "That's my whole point. If we hadn't been responsible, we wouldn't be in the flood plain, and now you're making us do this."
And I can't imagine. Really quite a few cities in the country that are getting caught in a fairly similar situation, that would be in the same sort of, you get a heavy rainfall event, it's a fairly flat area, okay, this is going to flood--when you're looking at it going, it hasn't flooded in several hundred years, and it's drier now than it's been.
I would ask you if you could, or have your office to look at this, because this is going to cause us quite a bit of additional expense for our city. And I really think it's probably going to affect a fair number of cities from Kansas on west to get into a semi- arid, arid region and then get caught in this zone of, well it might be a flash-flood that will happen.
And then they have to buy the flood insurance where they haven't ever had to anytime previously in four prior iterations of flood insurance maps.
We'll get you some more specifics on that; if you could look at it, it would be really appreciated.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, I'm familiar with that. I became familiar with that issue as the governor of a state not known for rain, and yes, we will keep you informed on that.
I just want to say however that the mapping process that is being used, our direction is to use the best science available to make these determinations, and that will guide us as we move forward. But then we have to temper that with what people are actually seeing, experiencing, and all of the rest. So we will look forward to working with a number of members of the Congress and of the Senate on this issue. It's been raised by several.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.
SEN. BYRD: Thank you. Thank you. Senator Tester.
SEN. TESTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Secretary Napolitano, for being here. Senator Byrd, I want to tell you, it's a real pleasure and honor for me to serve on this committee with you. Senator Voinovich, I served with you on Homeland Security and that too is an honor, and I look forward to serving with you on this committee too.
Secretary Napolitano, I see that you have Sara Cuban on staff. Is she doing a good job?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Excellent job.
SEN. TESTER: Well, good. Then we don't have to deal with that budget line item. Madam Secretary, as we try to help to ensure that the American people are kept safe, we also need to protect our tax dollars. When we talk about IT initiatives, things we buy in the name of Homeland Security, it is easy to lose track of our needs to be smart about how we spend our tax dollars. In our conversations you have always acknowledged that balance, and I appreciate that, and I appreciate your interest in trying to do right by the taxpayer in a very difficult job.
However, I do have a number of questions, stemming from a recent conversation -- these won't come as a surprise to you -- that deal with small business. I understand the need to move recovery dollars to the ground very quickly. However, I am concerned that the decision to use existing no-bid, sole-source contracting to begin planning and design for reconstruction of land ports of the entry from Canada to Montana in particular sent the wrong message signal to small businesses interested in this work.
As you know, I've talked about it is vital that the Recovery Act work as well in rural America as it does on the Coast. With that concern in mind, what is the department doing to ensure that interested small businesses are aware of the subcontracting opportunities that may be available on some of this work? I understand that there are small business subcontracting requirements. How is the department going to ensure compliance?
And one of the real good efforts underway in tracking Recovery dollars is that the agency is required to track how the dollars are spent. Should prime contractors be disclosing publicly how they are sharing the wealth on some of these contracts?
Several questions. Have at it.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Senator. Yes, this involves the Recovery Act monies put for construction and improvements on land ports.
SEN. TESTER: Yep.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: And you're right, in the effort to get that money out quickly, it went to general contractors basically who had done work before and were known quantities. But the requirements do include the requirement to subcontract because we're focused on jobs, job creation in the areas where those ports are going to be. We are going to be monitoring that very closely. We are going to be making information available to small businesses through the Internet and other sources so that they can apply and compete for those subcontracts, other channels as well. And then, yes, we are making our process in terms of what we're spending in those Recovery Act dollars very, very transparent and posting them on our website among other things.
SEN. TESTER: I need to be clear that I think we need to get the most bang for the buck and we need to be competitive, but is there something your department is doing specifically with the prime contractors to encourage them to use local contractors when the bid is competitive?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We have a direct connection. We're actually putting together a joint office with CDP and GSA together working on these and other port projects so that we have direct connect with the general contractors.
SEN. TESTER: Okay. I have a TSA question. I will leave it to you to decide whether or not the screening partnership program is the best bang for the taxpayer buck. However, the inability of TSA to follow through on the acquisitions process indicates a need to reform within this agency. There are seven airports that have waited 15 months. I would really like a commitment from you or at least a commitment to investigate what's going on here. The contract for security at these seven airports in Montana will be awarded, scheduled on June 7. I was told last night as a matter of fact that no way that's going to happen.
We have been put off several times before. It's costing us a lot more money than if we just put the contract out and get somebody to do it that really does it. Can you make me any sort of, give me any sort of vision or commitment on what the process is going to be there?
And I know this is a big agency, and this is a small thing, but it's a big thing to me.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: No, I can understand why. First I'm going to get a commitment from TSA not to call Senators of committees the day before my hearing.
SEN. TESTER: No, no, no.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I'll start there. But in any event, no, Senator, I will look at this directly. We'll follow up directly with you. We'll see what we can do.
SEN. TESTER: TSA didn't call me actually.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Oh.
SEN. TESTER: It was --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Somebody else.
SEN. TESTER: Exactly right. So thanks.
On another topic, I'm deeply concerned how DHS has done procurement with IT ventures. We're kind of rolling back over the last few years. The USA Visit program was originally supposed to cost $3 billion. Today GAO can't tell us what the actual cost is going to be because it's far from full operating capacity. Can you give us any insight there on what's going on with the Visit program and if it's effective and if there is a light at the end of the tunnel as far as how much it's going to cost.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, that's one of the areas that we're looking at and drilling down deeply on now, not just in terms of what's already happened and what it's costing our US Visit, but where is the light at the tunnel. And I don't think it would be appropriate for me to answer that question now because I don't know the answer. We're still looking it. But we'll get back to you.
SEN. TESTER: Well, I appreciate that. I've got some other questions we can put into the record for the secretary, but I just want to echo something that many other people have said here before. You've got a big job. There is a lot of money that hits the ground that, quite frankly, if we can hold some folks accountable, and I will be the first and I hope I don't hurt anybody's feelings in this room, but I'm going to tell you some of the big contractors I don't think we're getting the bang for the buck for. And they need to step up to the plate and be accountable for what they're doing. And quite frankly, I think that if the small contractors were in there and able to get able to get a piece of the pie, not only would we get better work but it would bring the big guys around, and say, You know what, we got to be competitive, we got to make sure we deliver." And it's a big agency, and I don't envy your position. But I will tell you this, if there's one person in the Obama administration that can run an agency like I think it should be run, it's you. So thank you very, very much for your public service and very good luck to you in running this very important agency.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. BYRD: That's a great compliment.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That was very nice. Thank you. And we will follow up on all of those matters.
SEN. BYRD: All right. Madam Secretary, West Virginia, with its mountainous terrain, floods occur unfortunately all too often. Nearly a year ago Governor Joseph Manchin requested a declaration of a major disaster in the state of West Virginia in response to heavy rains and the high winds that resulted in severe flooding in many areas of the state. Inconceivably, inconceivably it took nine days for the disaster to be officially declared. Critical federal assistance to victims who were facing immediate hardships needed to be made available as quickly as possible. Each day the funds were held up results in real suffering for many families and small business owners.
May I have your commitment that you will do everything in your power to ensure that such unnecessary delays will not occur again, particularly with regard to the most recent request received from the state of West Virginia?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, yes, we are doing everything we can to eliminate unnecessary delay in that grant process. It goes of course from the field to FEMA to me to OMB to the White House. And we have been able to turn around declarations very rapidly in my tenure as secretary. We will continue to work to improve even on that record.
SEN. BYRD: All right. Do the best you can do, do the best you can, and --
Since Fiscal Year 2007, Congress has provided over $3 billion, $3 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born. Congress has provided over $3 billion to construct 670 miles of fencing and other barriers on our Southwest border and to deploy cameras, radar and sensors. Madam Secretary, in your opinion is the fence and new technology working?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, we have, and intend to complete the fencing that the Congress has appropriated for. We are now deploying the first major stretch of what is called SBI Net which is virtual fencing. I will go on the Mexico/Arizona border. There were, as you remember, some glitches and significant problems with that technology. It was not operationally interfaced with our border patrol agents. It now is. Those towers are now going in. The environmental issues have been addressed, and the like, so we have fencing. We have virtual fencing we have that will have 20,000 boots on the ground among other things.
And so what we're seeing now, Senator, is the numbers of illegal crossings going down, and it's been going down fairly significantly over the last two years. I think that's partially due to these enforcement efforts and probably partially due to the American economy as well.
But we have, in my view, a process embarked on a plan that gives us operational control on that Southwest border. And it's very different down there now than it was, say, 8 or 10 years ago.
SEN. BYRD: I am disturbed, Madam Secretary, by the proposed cut in funding for our firefighters. The budget request proposes a major shift in the distribution of grants to firefighters. It significantly reduces the funding for equipping and training our firefighters, and it significantly increases the amount for hiring firefighters.
Now this is the question I ask of you. Was the decision made based on risk, on need, or effectiveness of the programs?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman. And if I might, let me explain how we arranged that or how we looked at the grant process for fire.
SEN. BYRD: All right.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We have the grant program that was funded in the Recovery Act. That is for the construction of fire stations. It's the same program that they use for equipment and training. And then you have another grant program that's used to actually hire firefighters or retain firefighters. It's a personnel program. There was money in the Stimulus Act for fire stations, and there had been money appropriated before for equipment and training. Our exploration and consultation with localities was that in this day and age of very tight, tight budgets they preferred money to actually pay for personnel, for salaries, because they didn't want to have to lay people off.
And so we rearranged the budgets to reflect that priority.
SEN. BYRD: Thank you. Senator Voinovich?
SEN. VOINOVICH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working to finish the pedestrian and vehicular fence along the southwest border. And what I'd like to know is, what further tactical infrastructure projects, are going to be roads or pedestrian fence and so forth, that have been identified that need to be undertaken?
I think it would be worthwhile for you, and I'd like to have it and I'm sure maybe the chairman would, is just: where are we actually in fulfilling the strategic plan to secure the border in terms of the physical things that need to be done? We've had lots of problems with this SBI Net program, on again, off again. And the biggest, the real question for you in this budget is, do you have enough in this budget to take you as far as you need to go? And once you've gone that far, what more are you going to need in future budgets to get us in a position where you can tell the American people, We've done the job that you expect us to do to secure the border?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Senator, we have enough in this FY '10 request to do what I believe we need to do at the Southwest border, particularly given that we have plussed up for some equipment, personnel, and things such as canine teams, to help us on the Southwest border on our initiative to begin looking at southbound trafficking.
If we have a particular need this year on sort of a surge sort of theory I believe I have enough resources in my back pocket in order to deal with that as well. So I'm very comfortable with the FY '10 budget request for CBP.
Now the harder question is, what's the end goal? When can we say we're done? And we are and I am relooking at that now. There was some work done on that by the prior administration. I want to take an independent look at it based on my own experience, and I'm doing that work right now.
I will close with one final thought however, Senator, which is this. One thing I think we need to avoid is backing off of our work on the border because numbers are going down, apprehensions are going down and the like. This is precisely the time when we should keep at our current efforts, keep at everything that we're doing, and then estimate and plan that we're going to have to sustain these efforts over time.
Part of the problem at that border historically has been, there's a lot of money put in one year, and then the next year there wasn't, and there was no continuity. And one of the things that we're going to have to have is sustainment in continuity.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Well, there's been a lot of speculation about are we having less people coming across the border because our economy is in the tank? Are there people here that are at work and are now going home? And there's --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Lots.
SEN. VOINOVICH: -- a lot of questions that you could ask about what's impacting on people's behavior. So I think that's something that we have to be guarded against. The point you're making is, let's stay with it, stay the course and get the job done the way it's supposed to be done.
One of the things around here that bothers me is that so often we look at things in silos, and you got the Justice Department involved, that wonderful program where they talked about in the office where they bring people in, hold them and book them and charge them and seems that once that's done they usually don't come back because if they do they are going to be arrested for something significant.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Operation Streamline. Yes.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Right, yeah. And have you looked at the other budgets that are impacting on yours to make sure that they are up to snuff in terms of what you think needs to be done there? Do you coordinate with these folks at all, or talk about that? Do you have a special group that meets together?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: The attorney general and I have met together because that's really the closest phase of interaction on a lot of these things. And we are working on trying to break down some of the silos that still exist. For example, there are memoranda of understanding, some of which date back to the mid '70s about what kind of legal authorities ICE, INS really the predecessor to ICE, has in investigations and if they turn up drugs in the context of a human smuggling ring and the like.
And the attorney general and I are working to revise those memoranda to reflect modern day reality, where everything is interrelated and law enforcement needs to be interrelated as well.
SEN. VOINOVICH: A few think that there are some more that needs to be done in terms of the Justice Department. I think you ought to let us know about that in terms of our consideration, in terms of their budget.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
SEN. VOINOVICH: E-Verify.
The Appropriations Committee uses E-Verify, Homeland Security uses E-Verify. But federal contractors are still not required to use E- Verify. Is the rule to require federal contractors to use E-Verify going to go into effect on June 30, or is it going to be delayed again?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: My understanding is, it's not complete there. I do not know the answer. I can say, however, that I believe E-Verify is an important part of our ongoing immigration enforcement to make sure that employers are hiring those who are lawfully qualified to work within our country. I was, when I was governor, I signed probably the nation's toughest employer sanctions law, and it pushed employers into the E-Verify system, incentivized them to use it. And it's no surprise that a quarter of the employers of the whole country that are on E-Verify right now are Arizona employers.
I've seen it work, I used it as a governor. We intend to make it, like I said, an integral part of our ongoing workplace enforcement.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BYRD: Senator, you made the remark "up to snuff." You talking about Copenhagen? Are you talking about Copenhagen?
SEN. VOINOVICH: No. I'm not talking about -- (laughs). I think -- Senator, do you understand what that means? Maybe some people that haven't been around as long as you have don't understand, but we sure do know what that means. Skol.
SEN. BYRD: Would you say that again?
SEN. VOINOVICH: Skol. It's another brand.
SEN. BYRD: Madam Secretary, I thank you for your testimony today. We plan to mark up our Fiscal Year 2010 bill in mid June. Therefore, it will be essential that we receive responses to our questions for the record by May 27. Do you have anything further, Madam Secretary?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, did you say May 27?
SEN. BYRD: Yes, I did.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, we will do everything humanly possible to meet your requirements and your deadline.
SEN. BYRD: Very well. I thank you, Madam Secretary.
Senator, do you have any closing remarks?
SEN. VOINOVICH: No, I haven't, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BYRD: Very well. I thank all the senators, and the subcommittee is adjourned.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, sir.