Chaired By: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Witness: Secretary Of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at www.fednews.com, please email Carina Nyberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-216-2706.
REP. THOMPSON: The Committee on Homeland Security will come to order. The committee is meeting today to receive testimony from Secretary Janet Napolitano on the President's FY 2010 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security.
I want to thank Secretary Napolitano for being here today to testify in support of the President's Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request for the department. The transition period for the Obama administration has been very busy and on many fronts. From border violence to the recent flu outbreak, the department has had a lot on its plate. Yet you've still managed to submit a very comprehensive budget that answers a lot of the questions we've had about where the department wants to go.
Last week the President's budget, just over $55 billion, was requested for the Department of Homeland Security. This is an increase of $2.6 billion over last year. Within that request, the President is seeking about $43 billion in appropriations. This represents an increase of 6.6 percent over last year and will cover key investments in Homeland Security in the range of areas including the following: $121 million in funding for explosive detection; an additional $96 million for Southbound firearms and currency smuggling enforcement; $420 million for safer firefighter grant program; an additional $75 million for the DHS Headquarters Project.
I believe that funding for the Department will benefit this vital agency. Additionally the budget includes a number of critical programmatic changes that I support and would like to highlight here.
The Transfer of the Office of Intergovernmental Programs to the Office of the Secretary is a long time coming and will surely enhance DHS' ability to coordinate with state, local and tribal governments.
I also support moving the Federal Protective Service from ICE to the National Protection and Programs Director, the center of gravity for infrastructure protection at DHS.
The $75 million increase slated for the comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative is another step in the right direction. Although I agree overall with the President's request for the department, I do have some concerns. In previous years over 40 percent of DHS' budget went out the door to contractors to perform a host of functions including policy-making. This over-reliance on contractors has undermined DHS' ability to execute its mission. I am hopeful that through your efficiency review, Madam Secretary, we will start to see some progress in this area.
While overall funding for grant programs seem in line with past budgets, I am concerned about the significant decreased plan for the fire grant program. As a volunteer firefighter, I know how much communities rely on this critical program. In these tough economic times I am committed to working to help secure a budget for the department that keeps on our commitment to fiscal responsibility while strengthening the security of our nation.
I am also committed to executing my legislative responsibility and producing authorization legislation to give DHS the resources and authorities it needs to execute all its missions. Tomorrow the committee is moving its first piece of authorization legislation for FY 2010. The TSA Authorization Act is a product of extensive bipartisan discussions. It reflects input from members, GAO, Inspector General, and Transportation stakeholders from across the spectrum.
Regrettably, input from TSA was hard to come by. With no Senate- confirmed leader at the head of TSA, the agency has not been the partner that we had hoped to have. Madam Secretary, I appreciate the challenges that this vacancy creates for you on an operational level, and I'm eager to see a strong manager installed in this critical position. Please keep in mind that the delays in filling key positions throughout the department not only makes things difficult for you but also complicates this committee's ability to carry out its oversight and legislative responsibilities.
I look forward to foregoing a collaborative relationship with you and the new leadership at DHS. This committee has years of knowledge and experience on a range of issues that you face. Please look to us as a resource as you consider Homeland Security challenges.
In closing, Madam Secretary, I look forward to working with you to ensure that the department has the resources it needs to execute all its missions, including to prevent and respond to the threat of terrorism.
Thank you. And I look forward to your testimony.
The chair now recognizes the ranking member of the full committee, the gentleman from New York, Mr. King, for an opening statement.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Madam Secretary. It's good to see you here today. At the outset let me express some very positive notes. One, I want to thank you for your level of cooperation and contact, certainly with my office, I'm sure with other members as well. I must tell you though, you do cause trauma among my staff when they realize that it's you on the phone and that there's no intermediaries. So go easy on them, okay? They're not expecting that.
Also on the swine flu, you were very cooperative, and keeping us abreast to what was happening.
And on the issue of the first report to come out on the Right Wing Extremists, returning veterans, I very much appreciate your personal call to me on that and discussing it.
Having said that, I believe that the combination of the first report and then the second report which I know was called back, to me and to others certainly on this side does demonstrate, we believe, a weakness in the department which has to be addressed, and we certainly look forward to what you have to say about that and working with you on that because it raised very significant issues. Certainly back our districts we hear about it. It's made an impression, and I don't think it reflects well on the department. I know you want to address it. I would like to really hear what your plans are and how those were released and what caused them to be brought about.
Also the chairman has mentioned the issue of the fire grants, a 70 percent in the fire grants. This I can assure you is a bipartisan issue. There's tremendous concern over this. I am certainly hearing from fire districts. I am chairman of the Congressional Fire Caucus, and I believe last year there was over $3 billion in fire grants, which shows the real need for it and demand for it.
And so again, that is an issue that certainly we have to work together on and which I'll be very much looking forward to your testimony on.
Also on the Secure the Cities, which was a three-year pilot program, while the program was primarily in New York City, this is something that affects cities throughout the country, and it's a pilot program which for the most part worked. I believe some more has to be done on it, so I don't believe the pilot program, even in the pilot stage, has been completed. But the fact is that when we look overseas at Madrid and London, it's very likely that the next attack on a major city is going to be launched from outside the city, in suburban areas, from areas outside the city, which is why it's so essential that we have radiation detection, that we have comprehensive efforts.
So for instance, the Secure the Cities pilot program in New York, which is being zeroed out, is being ended, involved not just New York City. It's New York City, it was Long Island, it was Westchester, Rockland, it was New Jersey, it was Connecticut; it was a regional defense against radioactive attack. And I saw an anonymous quote in the Washington Post from somebody in the Department of Homeland Security saying, One of the reasons this program was eliminated was because the department did not want to be a goal-line defense, that we wanted to stop nuclear weapons from coming, get them overseas before they got here.
One of the reasons the department was set up was to be a goal- line defense. If everything was being done well overseas, we wouldn't have to have the Department of Homeland Security, certainly not to the extent that we do. And also you don't need a bomb coming from Pakistan to impact New York City or Los Angeles or Chicago. It can be radioactive material stolen from a hospital, which could create a dirty bomb which could devastate our financial sectors, devastate neighborhoods and communities. So again, I certainly want to discuss that with you.
On the issue of immigration, I have real concerns with the SCOT program is being eliminated. I even remember some former governors telling us how important that program was in the fight against illegal immigration. And again, I think this is something that really has to be addressed, and I believe there's strong bipartisan support for the SCAT program.
On the issue of Guantanamo, I know we have sent a letter to you asking what precautions the department is going to make. There have been various news reports, whether it involves the Uighurs going into Virginia, whether it involves prisoners or detainees being brought to the Southern District of New York for trial in Northern Virginia, as to what measures are going to be taken if that does happen to provide the security that's needed, to do what has to be done because this to me is going to make already prime targets even more targets and create much more security programs for us.
So I want to again commend you for reaching out, but again there are some real questions here which have to be addressed. Certainly on fire grants, on Secure the Cities, on immigration and the whole issue of unit in your department which issued these reports, and also what we're going to do about Guantanamo if in fact detainees are brought to the United States either for trail or even to be released as has been heard in some cases.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. King. Other members of the committee are reminded that under committee rules opening statements may be submitted for the record.
Again I'll welcome our witness today. Janet Napolitano is the third secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. I'd like to publicly commend you, Madam Secretary, for your leadership for the three months, especially your handling of the recent influenza outbreak.
Prior to joining this administration Secretary Napolitano was midway through her second term as governor of Arizona. As governor she implemented one of the first state Homeland Security strategies in the nation, opened the first state Counterterrorism Center, and spearheaded efforts to transform immigration enforcement.
Secretary Napolitano previously served as the Attorney General of Arizona and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
Madam Secretary, I thank you for your service and for appearing before this committee today. Without objection, the witness's full statement will be inserted into the record.
Secretary Napolitano, I now recognize you to summarize your statement for the committee for five minutes.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Representative King, members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the Department of Homeland Security portion of President Obama's budget proposal for FY 2010.
Proposed total budget for DHS 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 couple of 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 our country's immigration laws.
Next, improving our preparation for, response to and recoveries from disasters, not just hurricanes and tornados, but also unexpected situations like the outbreak of the H1N1 flu.
And lastly, unifying, creating one Department of Homeland Security. We need to work together as one department to ensure that we operate at full strength. As this committee knows, the department was recently created out of 22 separate agencies. Part of this budget is designed to help us continue to knit and unify into one DHS.
Now there are three approaches that the department is taking to strengthen its performance in each of the five main mission areas and that are also strengthened in this budget. First, expanding partnerships with state, local and tribal governments, the first detectors and the first responders.
Second, bolstering our science and technology portfolio, investing in new technologies that can increase our capabilities while being very cognizant of privacy and other interests that are there.
And third, maximizing efficiency. Through an Efficiency Review Initiative that we launched in March, we intend to ensure that every security dollar is spent in the most effective way.
This budget adheres to the President's main reform goals: government efficiency, transparency and cohesion, and will play a major part in bringing about a culture of responsibility and fiscal discipline at DHS. The DHS budget was based on alignment with the department programs and priorities and that was assessed on the basis of effectiveness and risk.
In terms of 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, $87 million for new measures to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks from attack, and it also enhances information sharing amongst federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement.
For border security, the budget proposal includes $116 million to deploy additional staff and technology to the Southwest border to disrupt southbound smuggling of drugs and bulk cash to help combat cartel violence.
It also includes $40 million for smart security technology funding on the northern border to expand and integrate surveillance systems there.
To assure 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 $344 million for U.S. Visit.
To help Americans prepare for and recover from natural disaster, the budget proposal includes doubling the funds from $210 to $420 million; to increase the number of frontline firefighters a $600 million increase to the disaster relief fund, and it strengthens pre- disaster hazard mitigation efforts to reduce injury, loss of life, and destruction of property.
Finally, to unify the department, this budget proposal includes: $79 million for the consolidation of DHS Headquarters which will bring 35 disparate 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 under the same system.
In my few months as Secretary, I've seen a number of remarkable accomplishments in addition to the challenges that DHS faces. I have seen this department's potential. I believe we have a path toward realizing it. We are aiming to do even better at achieving our nation's security mission, and this budget will help the department do just that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I thank you for your testimony.
I will remind each member that he or she will have five minutes o question the secretary. I now recognize myself for the first question.
Madam Secretary, recent reports have indicated that some 5,000 families across Mississippi and Louisiana will have to leave their FEMA trailers at the end of this month. With that, I have been unsuccessful in figuring out the plan for those 5,000 families. Can you assure this committee that there will be a plan for those individuals who are presently housed in those trailers, soon to be displaced?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Let me just begin by saying that we have placed over 100,000 families already. These are the last remaining five. I'd be happy to supply you with the list, extensive, of contact with the families, options they've been given, and also share with you that we offered to give the state of Louisiana, the state additional caseworkers to work with those families, because this goes to the states to work through the families. They did not accept that offer.
But it is now time to start closing out the remains of Katrina, and we are and do have many options that have been made available to those occupants.
REP. THOMPSON: And coupled with that is this committee's real interest on just the housing of individuals with natural disasters. Some of the numbers associated with it have been astronomical. And Chairman Carney and a couple of us are planning to look at the whole temporary housing issue. Some of the $60,000 cost associated with one temporary trailer is a lot of money, and the only answer we've been able to get is, "Well this is, we've always done it this way."
So I'm hoping that you will look at that going forward and see where are alternatives that can be explored in that temporary housing arena.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, one of the first meetings I had as Secretary was with the Secretary of HUD Sean Donovan because there is not a clean connection in terms of housing for disaster victims. And we are looking at some point when after the immediate response of temporary housing, these have become long-term housing issues. And what this has revealed is that long-term recovery planning is not as robust as it needs to be.
So housing is part of that, and yes indeed we are working very hard on those issues.
REP. THOMPSON: I know the issue around procurement, Madam Secretary, is the fact that presently DHS has over 15,000 contractors. That's some 300 percent increase since the department was created. Can you share with the committee whether or not there's a plan to reduce the over reliance on outside contractors for the department?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman. One of the management things we will be doing this year and probably will be reflected in the '011 budget is really looking at contractors and what needs to be brought in-house. I think the committee understands that contractors were used at the outset because of the speed with which the department had to get up and running. But now as you note there's an over reliance there, and what the committee needs to know and appropriators need to know is, what do we really need in-house to properly staff some of these functions?
So yes, we are looking at that from a management standpoint.
REP. THOMPSON: So your testimony is that, not this year but next year?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I think it would be fair to say that the FY '10 budget has some changes in it already, but looking at the contractor issue simply requires more time than we had available.
REP. THOMPSON: With respect to compliance with detention standards in ICE, a number of reports have talked about some pretty devastating things occurring with respect to medical care in facilities. Some have led to multiple deaths. And looking at this budget, it appears that we will expand detention facilities.
What have you taken to prevent some of those issues medically from reoccurring?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Mr. Chairman, one of the things I discovered when I took over the department that was in the huge organization chart that it is, the whole issue of where detention was at the very, very bottom. We have moved that up so that the person who reports directly to the head of ICE and brought in to help us there a person who has run the prison systems in Missouri and Arizona, extensive experience with these types of facilities. She has been going facility by facility, contract by contract, looking at what we have.
The budget reflects not only the need for beds but the need to increase the expenditure for health care to reach standards for detainees. And so we are in the process of doing that right now as well.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. That ends my questions. I now recognize the ranking member of the full committee, the gentleman from New York, for questions.
REP. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madam Secretary, I would like to cover issues of Secure the Cities, fire grants and immigration. How far I'll get I don't know. But I'll start with Secure the Cities, and not from the parochial perspective of New York City but really what this means for other cities throughout the country.
And I realize this was a pilot program. I don't believe it's really been completed. I know from talking to the NYPD and other police departments, they feel that there is still more that has to be done even in the pilot phase of it.
But even if it were finished, I think it's really rolling the dice to be asking cities across the country to be applying for grants every year. I think they should able to be a dedicated revenue stream to this, because I just see this as being such a real threat to our cities.
And I'm not aware of anything, for instance any federal officials being on highways or parkways or roadways leading from suburbs into the cities who are doing radiation detection. This is going to be left to the cities to do.
And it really requires regional approach. And to that extent I believe the detection and interdiction infrastructure that was set up in New York is a model that can be used and should have a dedicated revenue stream. And to me to zero it out or to end it just because a three-year pilot program is over, to me is really missing the larger picture. And I'd appreciate your thoughts on that, especially since if we look at Europe generally the attacks come from the suburbs into the cities.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes. Thank you. On Secure the Cities, I couldn't agree with you more that protection of the country from a radiation attack is key, a very important mission. This particular grant I think I should share with you that the recipient has not yet spent the FY '08 money that it got. It has not yet submitted its grant application for the FY '09 money that it got. So there is money in the pipeline to continue and fulfill the grant through FY '10.
And so it was the judgment that we shouldn't put more, new money in it because there was money that would fund the program through this fiscal year. And as I think we all recognize, the money is very tight this year. And what we're trying to do is, if we have unspent monies, well we'll use those as opposed to asking for others.
With respect to continuation of the pilot permanently, I think that's worthy of consideration once we see how it worked. Obviously New York and the other states, participating could apply to some of the other preexisting grant programs and use those funds for the Secure the Cities operation. But moving forward, one of the things we want to know from the pilot is, does it work, and does it make sense to make it permanent and expand it? And we will evaluate it.
REP. KING: The previous administration, with Secretary Chertoff, we had this disagreement one year about whether or not the grant application was in or it was not and whether or not there was money available or not. Rather than lose because of bookkeeping tactics, I would ask if you'd be willing to meet with officials involved in New York Secure the Cities program, or people in your office to meet, to make sure that this can be continued over the next year without any damage being done? Because again, I sort of went this three years ago with Secretary Chertoff and it was a question of whether or not the grant was in on time, whether the form was filled out correctly, and in the meantime tens of millions of dollars were lost. So rather than go through that again, I would really ask if I could, or if you could, be willing to meet with them to make sure that everyone is on the same page on this.
And again, not for the parochial interests of New York, but I just see our cities across the nation being at threat because of this.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Oh, absol -- yes. And we'll work with your staff to make sure we're talking to the people you would like us to speak with.
REP. KING: Thank you, Secretary.
On the issue of the fire grants, I think of all the programs administered by the department, I don't think any received a higher rating for being effective, and yet there's going to be a 70 percent cut. And I believe you testified yesterday that your belief in the fire departments is that they needed more personnel as opposed to equipment and training.
Again, when you have over $3 billion being applied for under the fire grants and certainly from my contact with fire districts, not just to my state but around the country, I think there's a real demand for this, a real necessity. And again, you know the role of the fire service is also changed since September 11. They have also become first line defenders certainly again in areas which are target-rich. And so I think you're going to be hearing from us on that in a bipartisan way.
I promise you I will try to restrain Congressman Pasquale when he gets going but --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: He's looking at me right now.
REP. KING: But seriously, on that again that's something -- again, I hear what you have to say on it, but also it needs to be part of an ongoing dialog.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Yes. Well, there was money in the stimulus pack for the fire grants, and the fire grants have been heavily funded in the past years as you recognize, kind of two to one compared to what are called the "safer" grants which really go for firefighters themselves.
Our analysis was and our contacts were that in this era of very restricted local budgets and departments having to lay off firefighters, that they really wanted some money to keep their personnel numbers up. So the judgment was made, given that Congress already had put money toward the safer grants and the stimulus bill was to significantly now plus-up the fire grants during this economic period so that we wouldn't have fire department lay-offs.
I couldn't agree with you more: fire departments now are not just about fire. They are about a much broader range of first response. And so we want to make sure they are supported in that capacity.
REP. KING: My time is run out. I'm sure somebody will mention SCAT to you before the hearing is over. Thank you.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, sir.
REP. THOMPSON: The chair will now recognize other members for questions that they may wish to ask the Secretary. Again, I urge members to be mindful of the five-minute rule and the secretary's limited time with the committee today. In accordance with our committee rules, I recognize members who are present at the start of the hearing based on seniority on the committee, alternating between majority and minority. Those members coming in later will be recognized in the order of their arrival.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Oregon for five minutes, Mr. DiFazio.
REP. PETER DIFAZIO (D-OR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Madam Secretary.
Three questions hopefully we can dispose of quickly. I asked the former, I think you would unlike the former administration recognize that the Constitution provides for three branches of government. Do you agree with that?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I can agree with that.
REP. DIFAZIO: That's good. Thank you. That was controversial at the previous administration.
We are one of the three. There was a plan for Continuity of Government, and one would assume that Continuity of Government would include all three branches. You'd agree with that?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I would agree with that.
REP. DIFAZIO: Excellent. We're off to a good start here. They, I am a member of this committee, and the chairman and I have requested to be, to have access to that plan to understand what was the proposed role for our branch of government, and what provisions were to be made in terms of Continuity of Government after either a catastrophic attack or other problems. To the best of my knowledge, this executive order is still in place and is still classified. And we were denied access. Could you provide us access to that so we might better understand the proposal?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: (pause)
REP. DIFAZIO: You look puzzled.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, I am puzzled.
REP. DIFAZIO: Yeah. Okay.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: But I will look into this and report back to you, yes.
REP. DIFAZIO: Thank you. That would beit started a whole little cottage business on the Internet about what might or might not be in it because of the fact that even the chairman and I were denied access to it, and other members of Congress.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It surprises me that the legislative branch has not developed its own Continuity of Operations.
REP. DIFAZIO: Well, and there is, there is certainly concern there. And Brian Baird, one of my colleagues from Washington state, has proposals on how we might reconstitute ourselves in the case of a devastating attack and loss of membership. And thus far it's not gone anywhere. But I would just be curious how we fit into this overall plan of the Executive branch.
Secondly, last time you were here I asked about the issue of collective bargaining, right? You were going to consult on that. Have we made progress on that issue for TSA employees?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes. We are still looking at that, as well as in addition to collective bargaining rights. How do we create within TSA a real career path for employees so that we improve retention, take advantage of experience, allow kind of frontline employees to move up into the department, how we increase and improve training and so forth for those employees. So yes, we are looking at all those issues.
We do not yet have a nominee to head TSA, and frankly I think some of these resolutions are awaiting the new head of TSA.
REP. DIFAZIO: Okay. Hopefully that will happen soon. But I would agree with you that when we then created the TSA over on the Aviation Committee where I then served our idea was to move away from the lowest cost, minimum wage, high turnover, dead-end jobs. I mean we actually had testimony one year from the screener of the year who said that at his airport St. Louis which had more than 100 percent turnover in terms of screening employees before the federal government took over that it was considered a big move up to go to McDonalds from screening.
And we tried to fix that by creating the TSA, and I applaud your idea about a career path and enhanced training. That's excellent.
Finally, there is a leaked document which talks about the Secure Freight Initiative, and it acknowledges, which I think has been publicly acknowledged, the fact that you don't anticipate being able to meet the 100 percent scanning of inbound maritime cargo by the 2012 deadline. And it sets out three paths to deal with that. Do you have thoughts on what path is going to be chosen by the department in terms of either meeting or not meeting that deadline for 100 percent screening of maritime cargo?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We are still looking at that. I think I said even in my confirmation hearing and in my first hearing before this committee that I thought the 2012 deadline for SFI was going to be very difficult to reach, to negotiate all the international agreements that are part of that. And we wanted to really focus on what is the most effective way to prevent dangerous cargo from entering the United States. It was kind of a multi-layered, risk-based approach. And so that is where we are heading now within the context of SFI.
But with respect to the memos that somehow became a public document, we are still evaluating alternatives and have some meetings within the department to discuss them.
REP. DIFAZIO: Okay. Well, my personal preference would be strategy 3. You know I am concerned that this is the most likely method of delivery of a weapon of mass destruction in the Untied States, and the current layered or risk-based program we pointed to in a number of hearings before your tenure is rather loophole-ridden. And I would not put great faith in that we are properly identifying and/or providing additional scrutiny to cargo with that system that requires that. So thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, sir.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. I now recognize the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Souder, for five minutes.
REP. MARK SOUDER (R-IN): Thank you. Madam Secretary, I have some questions related to the border. But first, I wanted to touch briefly because we haven't had a chance to talk about the so-called FEMA trailers that Elkhart, Indiana is where many of these came from in my district and in Joe Donnelly's. And that we've had multiple hearings here and over in Government Reform.
And I want to make sure that you are aware of a few facts related to what's come out. One is that formaldehyde in the room of the Government Reform Hearing was higher than it was in the trailers, that the housing in Louisiana in average was higher than the FEMA trailers, that the California standards you can make a safe, if the industry is moving to this, you can make a safe trailer. FEMA is the only agency right now that's being unreasonable, that in reality a tent has more formaldehyde in it. There is no housing that you can put people in. And we need to have a reasonable standard that, by the way, since Katrina there are people living in the same trailers in Florida, in places all over America. They've had zero complaints anywhere in America since Katrina. We have to have real science here, not emotion, or we're not going to be able to handle people. And I hope that you can approach this.
Chairman Frank understands a lot of this as he sat through some of this too, and we can work out a reasonable thing where we can actually build affordable things that are safe if we stick to science and not emotion. And I wanted to --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I couldn't agree with you more.
REP. SOUDER: Now on the border, one is a concern on terrorism on the border. If we're going to work out anything in this country on immigration we have to have the confidence of the American people that whether it's the Dream Act or whether it's immigration reform of some type, that the border is secure, or other people just pour in if we make changes.
Furthermore, if we're going to follow -- you know, fight terrorism, we have to know who people are.
So two basic questions. One is, you stated that you wanted to eliminate -- repeal the Real ID Act, which was one of the key 9/11 commissions and -- do you still stand with that? Do you see that moving ahead? And how is that working? And if I can do the second one, you can kind of work these together.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sure.
REP. SOUDER: On the border, you stated that you're putting resources in, but there's basically no increase at all in SBInet technology in that side, the increase was for maintenance of the existing. There doesn't appear to be any money for additional fencing and the fundamental question is do you intend to extend operational control past the 815 miles? You have plus-ups for outbound, which is really important on narcotics and guns. You're plussing up, I think, the total was 44 new border agents, Border Patrol, but those are focused at the ports of entry.
The question is for operational control of the border, do you have anything in your budget? And why is there not more for SBInet fencing and other things in between the ports of entry; whether it be hard fencing or electronic fencing, it doesn't appear that you're looking past 815 miles.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Congressman. Let me address the questions in order. In terms of Real ID, as I think the committee recognizes, governors across the country, both parties, all thought Real ID was an unfunded mandate from the Congress. I actually signed a bill in Arizona opting Arizona out of Real ID because there was no money associated with it, and the way the rates were coming down, it was going to be a very big burden.
That was almost the strongest bipartisan vote amongst the nation's governors that I saw in my time as governor. So when I came here, I said, look, we need to get to what the 9/11 commission was getting at, which is a more secure driver's license, all right. So we have been working with a team or governors at the NGA level in a bipartisan fashion to craft a substitute for Real ID. And there is a proposal now, I believe -- either it has been or will be introduced in the Senate -- I think that will have bipartisan sponsorship that the governors will accept and will be able to implement.
So it's not just a matter of repealing Real ID, which nobody was going to do, it's a matter of giving the governors of the country a bill that they can actually implement given the way motor vehicle departments work and the like. So that's where we are with that.
With respect to SBInet, we have just a week or two ago approved the latest iteration of it. As you know when it was getting up and started, it took a while -- it was a lot more complicated than people I think can see. But that first operational part will go down about 28 miles or so in southern Arizona in the Tucson sector. The next sector is on the way. The reason the budget is the way it is is because there are unspent monies, but there is a spend plan for SBInet, it's an integral part of our plans going forward because I believe that a border has to be secured. You have to have operational control over it. It requires manpower and technology, particularly technology between the ports of entry.
With respect to fencing, you are correct. We did not ask for fencing per se in large miles across the border, but I can anticipate there will be projects along the border that will incorporate some fencing as part of the tactical infrastructure.
REP. SOUDER: So do you see extending past 815 miles?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: At a project basis, yes. But I would not say we intend to build a fence from San Diego to Brownsville.
REP. SOUDER: I meant electronic or other -- are you saying you'll get to 850 this year, or -- I mean, we're talking about a 3,000-mile border. When are we going to --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: There's going to be a combination of manpower technology and infrastructure. And our goal, obviously, is to have a system border-wide, but not just to have a physical fence border-wide.
REP. THOMPSON: The gentleman from Texas for five minutes, Mr. Cuellar.
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, it's a pleasure seeing you again.
One of the most important powers that we as members of the legislature have is legislative oversight. There's always a tension between the executive branch and the legislative body in this area and most of the secretaries that we've had, they were either governors, attorney generals, judges and that type of experience. So I can understand that there's always a tension. But when we do ask for information -- and there might be an issue as to when we get it, but we do expect to get that information -- one of the things that we asked -- and Mr. Chairman, you'll recall the former secretary, we asked him to give us a best estimate as to how many Custom and Border Protection folks they would need on the ports of entry and the infrastructure. And I think we waited about 14 months and we never got it.
Recently, we made a request to your office also -- to your department -- and we're hoping we can try to get that information. And the reason we want that because we want to see how we can help you. It's not a gotcha-type situation, but we're trying to say how many people do you need and -- you know, men and women in blue so we can try to fund that as much as possible.
We need the infrastructure needs, both the north and southbound, so we can reduce the wait times and move traffic and especially since 80 percent of all the trade coming to the U.S. is through land ports, I think we need to do a lot more in that area.
So do you have a general idea of when we could get that information from you? And this is something that both the chairman and I have requested of the former secretary and we could not get that information.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I don't know where the actual request is, but our goal has been to be as communicative and as cooperative as we humanly can with the committee. So we will -- I will find that request and see what we can do and how quickly we can do it.
REP. CUELLAR: Okay. The request is very simple. What proper staffing do you need -- what would be the number of personnel you need to staff properly your ports of entry, the men and women in blue, one? And then what are your infrastructure needs you need for north and southbound? Very simple.
Mr. Chairman, you recall, we kept asking the other secretary and we couldn't get that information. It was not to try to catch somebody, we were trying to say, what are your needs so we can try to work and try to get you the proper funding on that?
The other thing is, I'm very interested in performance measures, the efficiencies, and I understand that you're doing some of that. That part is important because if you have contractors, we'd like to see the performance measures because a lot of times what agencies do is they have certain performance measures for the agencies, but when they contract out, those performance measures drop out. So we'd like to see the performance measures even on the contractors as you reduce them and the efficiencies on some of the things that were done. For example, why is it that, as an example, in Laredo, when property is seized and they're going through the administrative process, they used to store that property in a Laredo warehouse -- and it doesn't matter where, Laredo, El Paso. But now under the contract that they have, everything is shipped all the way to California.
It's good for the California folks to have that, but the efficiency is why do people have to pay all these transportation costs to send something all the way up to California instead of keeping it in a local place, whether it's El Paso, Brownsville or somewhere else. And I would like to get an answer if that contract is still in place or if you all plan to make some changes on the efficiencies on something like that? Efficiencies like can we use more civilians to do support services instead of having Customs and Border Protection -- you know, I'd rather have them out there on the lines trying to move traffic faster instead of them behind some computer or typewriter to do some of that support services.
We did that in Texas with the DPS and we got more people -- what we call more boots out in the field instead of having them do the support services and we hired more of those civilians. So I would like to see if we can follow up on that.
Finally, the last thing is on the FEMA grants, what efforts are you all doing to streamline the process? I know there's some question as to the cuts, but the streamline process, paperwork reduction, how fast can we get it out in the areas? What do you do? How do you handle those small rural areas like the New Yorks or the Houstons or the Laredo -- can handle the paperwork, but the small rural volunteer areas, they have a hard time trying to fill those out, but the streamlining and simplifications of that would go a long way on those FEMA grants.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Congressman. And yes, we are --
REP. THOMPSON: Excuse me a minute, Madame Secretary. I'm trying to listen to the Secretary. If the members could be a little quieter, we could hear.
Go ahead, Madame Secretary.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: With respect to streamlining FEMA, you're talking about public assistance grants, individual assistance grants in the wake of a natural disaster. Yes, and we have been working with communities and even in my short tenure as secretary, have been able to work with relatively small communities to help them with that process and we're always looking for ways to make it simpler and to streamline it. You're absolutely correct.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Madame Secretary, there are some other questions that the gentleman from Texas raised and I'm sure he will want to get them responded to if we can -- the gentleman is still of the mind to get all the questions answered.
REP. CUELLAR: I would love to get -- I think you're responding to the last one, but we had in the efficiency issues if the --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, with respect to efficiency measures for contractors, yes, as I indicated to the chairman, I think the Department now is at a stage where we really need to thoroughly review contractors versus full-time employees moving forward as a Department. And obviously, part of that is what's the best and most effective way to spend the security dollars that we do get?
And so those performance measures are going to have to be and are going to have to be an integral part of that evaluation. And then with respect to the first question, I think I already indicated that I'm going to go back and see the request and see when we could get you a response.
REP. CUELLAR: Could you give that response to the two parts of the question?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yeah. How many CBP officers --
REP. CUELLAR: Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, if you can address it to him and copy it to me.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I'd be happy to do that.
REP. CUELLAR: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: We will now recognize the gentleman from Texas, Mr. McCaul, for five minutes.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Thank the chairman. Madame Secretary, welcome again.
I want to commend you for your focus on the Southwest border, the resources you're putting down there. I was in El Paso two weeks ago and saw the best teams in action, which -- you know, we're doing a pretty good job, I think, screening incoming traffic now. I think one of the flaws has been tracking, you know, cargo currency, weapons going into Mexico.
It's really a Mexican responsibility and they have not stepped up to the plate, but I think these best teams are working effectively with the dogs.
I'd like to see more infrastructure, quite frankly, and resources put into that because, right now, they're operating more on gut instinct, I think, more than anything else. The dogs are effective. Perhaps the Merida Initiative could provide some funding to Mexico so they could properly screen incoming traffic. But that's just -- those are my thoughts.
I wanted to hit one issue specifically with you and that's the state criminal alien assistance program. This provides assistance to the states for incarceration of criminal aliens and it's in my view been a very successful program. I know when you testified last February before the Senate Finance Committee, you stated that the federal government must, at a minimum, live up to its financial obligations to compensate for the cost of these failures borne by the states, and you referred to this program as an underfunded program and that the federal government needs to pay its bills.
This president's budget eliminates the SCAP program, and I just wanted to get your view -- you seemed very supportive of it as a governor. What is your view on the president now eliminating this important program?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, yes, in fact, when I was governor, I think I sent the attorney general of the United States an invoice for an unpaid SCAP bill. States were getting, I think, about 10 cents for the dollar. This is a program that reimburses states for the cost of incarceration of illegals.
As you know, that's part of the Department of Justice budget. At the Department of Homeland Security level, I think what I'm trying to do is to reduce the number of illegals that come into those border states, and that's the way to reduce the costs on the states, not just for incarceration, but a whole host of other related issues.
So with that, I'm sure the administration will be happy at the DOJ level to discuss SCAP and how it was not budgeted with you. But I think at this point in my role, my emphasis has to be on reducing the number of illegals, period.
REP. MCCAUL: And I agree with that in part. I do think the elimination of this important program, though, is a mistake, and I think you're going to see in the appropriations process or through maybe amendments on the floor this program being restored as it was last Congress. Also, the Stonegarden program is very important to me in terms of the resources provided to state and locals. Border sheriffs -- the National Association of Border Sheriffs came out with a figure of about 500 million (dollars). It was a number that they believed they needed to properly secure the border. I think they play an important part.
As you said, the state and locals are the eyes and ears. Sixty million (dollars) is in the budget, which is a good start. Congressman Cuellar and I introduced a bill to fully fund this in our view at the $500 million level, and I hope you'll give that some consideration.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Congressman. And we have started a biweekly conference call with border sheriffs and police chiefs. So we hear directly from them particularly as we are in this effort and we want to sustain this effort at the southwest border.
REP. MCCAUL: Okay. And I commend you on your choice of Mr. Burson for the border czar. He briefed us personally. He's a former U.S. attorney like yourself. He gets it. I've talked to him about this particular program and the 500 million (dollars). I think he's very -- he seemed at least to be very supportive of the idea of doing that.
Lastly, if you could just give us an update on Guantanamo. I went down there with other members. The top 16 al Qaeda leaders are there. There's grave concern from our constituents about these people coming into the United States at some point. I know you're on the task force and if you could give the committee an update on that, I would appreciate it.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Congressman. The Department of Homeland Security is on the task force. It's chaired by the attorney general. It is looking inmate-by-inmate at Gitmo in terms of what disposition should be made. If any are ultimately decided to come into the United States that they are paroled in under ICE, for example. My number one concern and number one function, I think, is to make sure it is in such a fashion that Americans can be confident that they will not be endangered by that.
So we are looking at what kinds of restrictions will need to be associated with any sort of movement.
REP. McCAUL: Thank you. I see my time has expired.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. We now recognize the gentlelady from -- we'll get -- the gentleman from California, we'll get to you next.
The gentlelady from Arizona, Ms. Kirkpatrick.
REP. ANNE KIRKPATRICK (D-AZ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, as you know very well, we in Arizona are extremely concerned about smuggling across our border, along with the potential for the type of violence we have witnessed in Mexico.
I have been calling for Congress to authorize 100 million (dollars) to prevent the southbound trafficking of cash and guns, and last month, I introduced a bill, along with Chairman Thompson, which could do just that. Therefore, I am really glad to see your budget proposal calls for almost exactly the funding I requested to improve CBP and ICE southbound interdiction operations.
When do you expect to have all of the additional CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, ICE agents and license plate readers fully in place to prevent southbound trafficking? Do you have a timeline for that?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, yes, virtually all of those resources have moved already down to the southwest border as part of our effort to assist the government of Mexico and halting the flow of the fuel for the cartels into the country.
In addition -- and this, in a way, refers back to Representative McCaul's point -- we are working with the government of Mexico, the Minister of Interior Gomez Mont, to set up a system whereby they actually do some southbound inspections themselves and we have some exchange in terms of rotation and all the like, so the cartels don't know who's working which area at any given time.
That planning is under way as well.
REP. KIRKPATRICK: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
As you also know, we have just started the wildfire season in the West, and we've seen the devastating effects of a wildfire in California. And I just got word this morning that there's a wildfire nearly Highway 60 in Springerville, in my district. So very happy to see the funding for the SAFER grants. My question is that -- which -- with the new funding, are you looking to have a cap on this grant increased? If so, do you have any thoughts as to what would be an appropriate level?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I'd have to get back to you on that, Representative. I don't know the answer.
REP. KIRKPATRICK: Thank you. Thank you, Madame Secretary.
I yield back my time.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Let me apologize to the gentleman from California. Staff had omitted your name on the list for members present. And so we now recognize the gentleman from California for five minutes, Mr. Lungren.
REP. DAN LUNGREN (R-CA): I appreciate it, Mr. Chairman. I have lost 10 pounds. I know it's more difficult to see me now. (Laughter.) So I appreciate that.
Madame Secretary, first of all, let me reiterate what the gentleman from Texas said. Alan Bersin's an excellent choice. I worked with him when he was in San Diego. He works with both sides of the aisle, and he has a very good understanding of the border. And thank you for making that selection.
Secondly, thank you very much for your commitment in this budget and in the meetings that I've had with representatives of your office and the White House on cybersecurity. That is an unmet need in this country. You're recognizing that, in part, by the budget that you have presented. And I appreciate that.
One of the areas I hope to talk with you at some other time -- both you and Department of Defense and others is EMP, electromagnetic pulse, whether we're taking that seriously, whether that's just the old Cold War concern or whether, in view of the fact that we have rogue nations now that have lifting power with the new missiles -- so you don't have to have an accurate missile to have the impact of EMP -- and what that means for our protection of our infrastructure. And are we even preparing for that and is that part of your concern?
I would reiterate my concern about the -- (inaudible word) -- program. When I was attorney general, I worked hard for it. When you were attorney general, you worked hard for it. When you were governor, you worked hard for it. I doubt the facts have changed. I doubt your opinion has changed. I understand you're part of a team now, but hopefully you can voice the concerns the rest of us have. We're building -- we're building airports where nobody flies; we're building bridges to nowhere, I mean, stuff that you can't give a justification for the federal government, but you know and I know the primary responsibility for immigration and for border control is the federal government and when they don't do the job -- and those of us in the states have a considerable number of illegal aliens who've committed felonies -- it is a legitimate request for the states to have the federal government assist in that, and yet we zero that out in the president's budget.
So I'm not going to put you on the spot because I know where you have been, and no facts have changed, so I doubt you've changed your opinion. Maybe they'll listen to you a little bit more on that.
Let me focus on Gitmo, though. As an attorney who's clerked on the Ninth Circuit, been a U.S. attorney, attorney general -- so you understand that when we bring people to the United States to put on American property, American soil, that connection gives rise to constitutional protections they might not otherwise have anywhere else. So if we close Guantanamo and we bring them here, all of the sudden they have an assortment of rights which may mean, according to federal judges, they are released. They are released into our communities.
Now, you have said today you are concerned about that and you want to make sure that we protect Americans. We have members of the Cabinet who have said in other positions -- Secretary Salazar and Secretary Sebelius -- that they don't want folks in their states. I don't know what your position is about whether Arizona ought to be willing to take them, but a whole lot of people aren't running to take these folks. What I'd like to know with some particularity is, what do you mean when you say it is your concern that we protect the American people? Because if you have people who are terrorists and we're holding them overseas, you don't necessarily have the basis upon which to bring them to trial, because the purpose of detaining terrorists on the battlefield is to stop them from carrying out their function. You may not be able to prove a completed crime. But yet if we bring them to American soil, they may have the right to be released under our federal laws and our Constitution.
So I am at a quandary to find out what you mean by how we would protect the American people, if we bring people who are suspected terrorists -- because of decisions by federal courts, because they've been brought to the United States, they're allowed out in the community -- how do we protect -- what does that mean?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Representative. First of all, I think the president's been very clear: We need to close Gitmo, which itself has become a recruiting tool for terrorists.
How we do that has been the subject of the review chaired by the attorney general that the Department of Homeland Security sits on. My statement was, well, what is -- what is Homeland Security's function there? And our function there is to provide information and assistance as to what sorts of protections would be needed on the -- in the -- on the homeland side if an inmate were ultimately to be released to the homeland.
Those decisions have not yet been made. They are reviewing each case independently. Obviously, there are other places and other facilities and other ways to deal with some of these --
REP. LUNGREN: Well, I understand. What I'd like to know, could you give me some idea of what those other ways or other ideas are? Because, frankly, we're left now with talking with our constituents, saying the administration has taken the position -- and if I were in court, I could debate with you whether Gitmo has been a positive or a negative, but the fact of the matter is the president's made a decision. We've been telling now the American people we're going to close Guantanamo. I don't see any money in the budget to do that, but that's another thing. And that's going to force people here in the United States. Federal judges may very well release them. And as you've suggested, that could happen.
But what are the options? What kinds of things are you looking at in your department to assist us and protect the American people so we can tell our constituents what we're going to do?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, I think right now we're treading into an area that I don't believe I'm able to talk about in a public setting. This is a process that is under way at the highest levels with the White House and other departments. But as decisions are made -- the president's committed to transparency, and there will be explanations about what is happening and why.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Pascrell, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. BILL PASCRELL (D-NJ): Madame Secretary, I appreciate fully the difficult job you have of creating a budget that meets the needs of this nation in all the various areas which you have -- you're in charge of during a tough economic period in our history. I understand that; believe me, I do.
I've concluded, though, that looking at what your proposed -- what you proposed to us and the nation -- the last administration made the mistake of not understanding that real homeland security starts from the ground up, on our local streets, in our intelligence apparatus, and not here in Washington. I sincerely hope this administration doesn't make the same mistake.
I have to say I'm greatly dismayed, to say the least, to see the dramatic cuts to a couple of grant programs that are vital to our local and state first responders, who we keep on patting on the back and yet this budget, I believe, does not reflect what our rhetoric has been.
Under this budget proposal, the successful FIRE grant program is cut by 70 percent from last year. We simply can't hire thousands of new firefighters to departments, knowing what the regulations are under the SAFER bill -- which I was cosponsor of as well -- because they're not going to have the equipment, the training. We did not pass the FIRE Act after 9/11. We passed the FIRE Act before 9/11. We do, as the gentleman from New York stated very specifically, have $3 billion in requests every year. Former administration tried to zero this program out. It's been a successful program in red districts, pink districts, blue districts, you name them, all across America.
We had those needs about equipment and training and the wellness of our firefighters, be they career or voluntary, long before 9/11. They were a neglected part of the public safety equation. They've always been neglected. In fact, it was a debate as to whether we have any responsibility at all with regard -- but towns and municipalities were not meeting their obligations; they couldn't afford to.
So here's a program -- listen to the ingredients. It's competitive. It deals with needs -- (inaudible) -- prove it. It's peer-supervised. Wow, that's something very unique. There is oversight. It's fair. The money goes directly to the local community. The states can't cream it off, take it off the top. That's different, isn't it? It doesn't go through the state. And it's results-oriented.
So firefighters and police officers, who are dear to my heart, they're the first to respond at a natural catastrophe or a man-made disaster. They're the first that'll be there.
The budget also only provides $50 million for the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program. That's an 85 percent decrease in funds.
Now, when you're saying, by the way, that the money is in the recovery plan, let me inform you, Madame Secretary, that there are $210 million in that recovery plan; it all went to construction of fire houses. Had nothing to do, basically, with the FIRE Act; nothing to do with equipment; nothing to do with training; nothing to do with apparatus. I voted for the Recovery Act. I hope I know what's in there.
Mr. Reichert and I worked very hard as chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee in the 109th Congress to create the great -- grant program, because the lack of interoperable equipment was one of the clearest failures of 9/11 and still is -- still is.
So the last time you were before this committee, Madame Secretary, there was no bigger supporter of local and state grant programs than you. And I got to -- want to stress that I understand. And I would like you to respond to both of these questions, if I may, Mr. Chairman -- through the chair and through the ranking member, I'd like you to respond to that.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I was talking with staff just a minute ago, so I apologize. But I'm confused on your statement about the interoperability, 50 million (dollars). It is my understanding that it is level funded in the FY '10 budget. So --
REP. PASCRELL: There's a decrease in the IECGP part of the Homeland Security budget.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: No, sir.
REP. PASCRELL: Well, then we're looking at the budget incorrectly. I'll gladly go back and I'll stand corrected, if so.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It says -- I have going back to FY '08, 50 million (dollars), FY '09, 50 million (dollars), FY '10 request, 50 million (dollars).
REP. PASCRELL: Can we -- we'll talk about that privately. Would you go -- we'll talk about that. I have different numbers than you have.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: And as I explained earlier on the FIRE grants, I couldn't agree more about FIRE and the importance of the first responders in the whole context of homeland security. The FIRE grants historically have been heavily funded, as you noted. The money for FIRE in the --
REP. PASCRELL: Excuse -- I didn't hear what you just said.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Have been heavily funded historically.
REP. PASCRELL: They haven't been heavily funded --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sir --
REP. PASCRELL: If there -- if we have $3 billion of requests every year and we have between 500 (million dollars) and 700 million (dollars), they're not heavily funded, as far as I'm concerned.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: What I'm trying to suggest, sir, is that in the past there's been an appropriation there. Part of that appropriation, if we want to look at FY '10 as a continuation, was assumed in the stimulus act. Now, as you correctly note, the stimulus act was for construction of fire stations. I do now know whether local fire departments, then, are moving some of their capital budget there and moving their money around, but they are getting additional monies there. And our information was -- in a meeting with first responders -- was in this time of limited economic resources, they were concerned about personnel and they wanted more money for the personnel side of the budgets. And that's what the FY '10 request does.
We looking forward to working with you on this -- (off mike) --
REP. THOMPSON: Time has --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: -- going forward.
REP. THOMPSON: -- expired, and I'm sure the gentleman will have other questions that the secretary can answer.
We now recognize the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Dent.
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I had a few questions, Madame Secretary, with respect to chemical plant security, but I did want to follow up on a couple things that have been said.
First, Ranking Member King mentioned in his opening remarks about the right-wing extremism report. And I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to express my disappointment in the now-infamous report which indicated that our returning veterans might be more susceptible to radicalization. To your credit, you've openly admitted that the report did not go through as robust review process as you had hoped. Could you tell us where the wheels came off the wagon, so to speak, and what you're doing to keep this from happening again?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, the wheels came off the wagon, first of all, because the vetting process that existed within the department was not followed or resolved. Secondly, the report was distributed and it was not authorized to be distributed. And third, it was distributed more broadly -- even if there had been an authorization -- than it should have been.
The report -- that particular section was meant to say not that veterans are more susceptible to become radicalized, but they are certainly targets of recruitment. And that is well known, and there are many publications that say that. Nonetheless, the way it was written or perceived was offensive. And I apologize for that; I apologize again.
Internally, what we have done now is to put a process in place to make sure that products of the department are properly vetted and supervised before they can be authorized to be distributed at all.
And let me say, Representative, my view is that where our department needs to focus is not on the kind of intel and analysis that circulates around Washington, D.C., but things that are useful for state and local law enforcement on the ground. And too much, I think, of what we produce is kind of Washington, D.C., speak as opposed to something that really works with state and local.
So one of the things I hope to accomplish as the secretary is to kind of review, rethink that whole intel support that we are supposed to be providing for security.
REP. DENT: Thank you. And also, to follow up on Mr. Lungren's question regarding the particularities of the Gitmo closing and relocation of prisoners, you indicated that you cannot talk about such specifics in a public setting. Would you be willing to hold a classified briefing for members of this committee on the details of Gitmo?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sir, we'll work with your staff on that and on the timing of that. I simply do not know. It may be that the White House itself would like to do the briefing. So -- but we'll follow up with you.
REP. DENT: Okay. Because I think many members would like to be briefed on that. Thank you.
Also, just wanted to mention, too -- I wanted to first at the outset commend the department for a job well done with its current regulations with respect to chemical plant security. The regulations -- as you know, the industry doesn't love them and the environmentalists don't like them either, which means you're probably onto something here. So the department's authorization for regulating chemical facilities expires in October of this year. The department has asked, in its budget submission to Congress, for a one-year extension of this regulatory authority.
The committee is currently engaged in negotiations on possible chemical security legislation that would address this extension, but the legislation would do more than extend the current regulation. Some in Congress are considering including provisions that would require the department to assess chemical facility processes at tens of thousands of chemical plants and identify what inherently safer technologies or processes might be appropriate in each situation. What are your thoughts on Congress requiring the department to determine which processes and chemicals facilities should utilize?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We'd be happy to work with you on that. In part, we're sort of doing that now, as we implement the CFATS rules and regs. So there may be a very useful overlap now.
REP. DENT: Yeah, because there are some concerns about secondary effects of some requirements that might come out of the committee on commerce overall. And when we get into this issue of inherently safer technologies and processes -- these are engineering practices. And I know -- I noticed in -- the president's budget request included an additional 19 million (dollars) for the Office of Infrastructure Protection to increase chemical facility security. Has the department examined how much it would cost to bring on necessary expertise to review thousands of these IST assessments and make determinations as to their feasibility? I think this is a very expensive -- and it requires a great deal of expertise. And I'm just concerned the department would not have that level of expertise. And you have 19 million (dollars) in the budget. Can you just address that, by any chance?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, sir. We do have a -- kind of a spend plan associated with what it will take to implement the CFATS regulations. And the budget is reflective of that. We'd be happy to provide you with more detail.
REP. DENT: Yeah. And if they could, too, is any of the 19 million (dollars) designed to bring on any IST specialists onto your staff?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We'll follow up with you on that, absolutely.
REP. DENT: Okay. And I see my time has expired, so --
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. Madame Secretary, it appears -- Mr. Pascrell's issue -- there is 400 million (dollars) authorized in that account, of which only 50 (million dollars) has been requested each year. So that was the discrepancy in the numbers that he had reference to.
We now will hear from the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Cleaver, for five minutes.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madame Secretary, thank you for being here.
I'm not sure whether or not this hearing is being televised on C- SPAN or not, but in the event it is, I think it is extremely important for me and frankly for all of us to hear you respond to something based on a question that -- or a statement made earlier. I represent Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City is 19 miles from Fort Leavenworth, which is in another state, but it's -- but the city limit is right -- just 19 miles away. I don't want anyone to believe, unless you say differently, that even if the prisoners were found to be illegally imprisoned, that they will be taken down to Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, or any other city, and released. Is it not true that a person who was illegally in this country and arrested, whether they were found guilty or not, would be deported? Am I correct?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sir, let me just say this is a -- this is a hearing on the FY '10 budget request. I just don't think that --
REP. CLEAVER: I understand.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: -- I can speak to the Gitmo issues in a public setting like this.
REP. CLEAVER: I understand. And I don't want you to -- I don't want to -- I don't want you to speak to that, and I don't want to come to a secret meeting. I fear that when we make statements in a public setting that causes people in the public to believe these people may be turned loose on our streets, when I know, as a non-lawyer, that that's not true -- and I just had the need to say that. I don't -- I don't want to talk about any other details. I'm concerned about sending out bad information. And I'm 100 percent correct, as a non- lawyer, that I'm correct.
Now, the --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I would just prefer not to comment at this time.
REP. CLEAVER: Yeah. I don't -- thank you. I editorialized.
My concern is about the E-Verify program, which I'm assuming is under ICE -- budgeted under ICE. Is that --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I believe so, yes.
REP. CLEAVER: Seventeen --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It was 112 million (dollars) requested for E- Verify.
REP. CLEAVER: Yes. Early on -- I guess in 1997,when the program first started, there were questions about its accuracy and so forth. It is my understanding that most, if not all, of those problems have been corrected.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, sir. And let me just say, as governor of Arizona, I signed probably the nation's toughest employer sanctions law, which basically gave an incentive to employers to use E-Verify. We used it extensively at the state government. And it gets better and better all the time. And it's a very easy system to use.
REP. CLEAVER: Is it possible for someone on your staff or -- who can run -- at least me, there may be other members who would like to become familiar with it, so that we can better answer questions back in our district --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Absolutely. We'd be happy to give you a demonstration.
REP. CLEAVER: I would appreciate that. Mr. Chairman -- and I appreciate your presence. I will yield back the balance of my time.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
For the committee, we'll take one other member, Mr. Bilirakis, for five minutes. We'll recess -- we have three votes -- reconvene shortly after the third vote. The secretary is scheduled to be with us until 12:30.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's correct, sir.
REP. THOMPSON: And so we'll go until 12:30.
Mr. Bilirakis, for five minutes.
REP. GUS BILIRAKIS (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it very much.
Welcome, Madame Secretary.
I believe we should do everything in our power to ensure that employers are not hiring illegal aliens, especially when it comes to Homeland Security contracts. And again, on E-Verify, I received a letter from the assistant secretary of Legislative Affairs on April 17th regarding the use of stimulus funds by the department which says DHS gives preference to prospective contractors based on the extent to which they use E-Verify.
I have several questions -- a couple questions, anyhow -- on this. Does this mean that the department refrains from awarding contracts to employers that do not use E-Verify or just prioritizes contracts for those that do? And do you believe that the use of E- Verify should be mandatory for government contractors and subcontractors doing business with DHS?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, I believe E-Verify needs to be an integral part of our immigration law enforcement moving forward. The system needs to be easy to use. It needs to be efficient for prospective employers and employees, because we don't want people unfairly denied work because of E-Verify. But I believe that we will be increasing E-Verify's capacity and capability. I believe that -- and the White House is now considering the rule about all contractors for the federal government. With respect to the Department of Homeland Security, I do not know of contracts that do not provide for the use of E-Verify.
REP. BILIRAKIS: Okay. How about -- why is there a delay by the administration? Can you answer that question?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I think the concern was whether the capacity of the E-Verify system was big enough to handle a universal rule that all contractors -- or whether it would actually -- that requirement would delay stimulus money getting out into the economy and jobs being created.
REP. BILIRAKIS: Okay. Can you estimate as to when the program will be implemented?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Let me just -- I believe the next deadline is in June --
REP. BILIRAKIS: By the end of June?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: -- and we'll get back to you on that. But the matter is with -- in the White House, looking at capacity through all agencies to implement.
REP. BILIRAKIS: Okay. Thank you very much.
REP. THOMPSON: The gentleman yield back? (No audible response.) Thank you.
Well, the next person is Mr. Green, if you promise not to take but two minutes. Okay. The gentleman from Texas --
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Madame Secretary, for appearing. I want to congratulate you and I want to say to you that I will also pray for you. I trust that things will go well. You have a great history. You are a real patriot. And the country is blessed to have you and we look forward to working with you.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. GREEN: I will go to page 19 of what I believe has been distributed as the proposed budget. And on that page, on the transportation threat assessment and credentialing, there's an indication that we have $216 million for this. That's a 37 percent increase. And the indication is that 53 -- excuse me; I'll shut this down -- we have 53.3 million (dollars), which is the increase that we will have for this area.
And I just want to read the last sentence, which is what I agree with: "Given the past problems associated with the TWIC program, it his highly recommended that TSA use these funds to improve the efficiency and timeliness of the program." I just want you to know I agree completely with that sentence, because the TWIC card has been a subject of some discussion at the committee level.
And with that, I will yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. The committee stands in recess for three votes. And we will reconvene shortly.
REP. THOMPSON: We'd like to reconvene the hearing on the DHS budget.
We'll now recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Harman, for five minutes.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Madame Secretary, for really excellent and helpful testimony this morning, substantive answers to questions, and for your visit last month to the Los Angeles area, where several of us went with you to see LAX, the top terror airport target in the country, and the Ports of LA and Long Beach, which is where 50 percent of our vulnerable container traffic moves, and then the JRIC, the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, which is the Los Angeles Fusion Center, and gets pretty high marks as these things are reviewed.
I know you took a lot of the information to heart, and I see a lot of it reflected in your budget. I want to ask you about three areas, but I want to make one comment on GITMO, which has come up in several questions. I know you're not going to respond. This is just a comment by me.
In today's news, it says that the six Miami men charged with conspiring with al Qaeda have -- five of those men have been convicted in a U.S. federal court. I just want to observe that we have a pretty good record in this country in recent years of convicting people charged with the crime of terrorism. And some are U.S. nationals and some are foreign nationals. And I have every confidence that we are able to do this well in U.S. federal courts and U.S. military courts. That's just a statement.
Moving along to three areas that I want to ask you about. One, the intelligence and analysis budget is mostly classified. It's not here. What is unclassified is in the budget we're looking at, and I support, of course, the activities in the unclassified budget.
But I would like to tell you again, Madame Secretary, how opposed I am to any money spent on the so-called National Applications Office, which is an office that would deploy military satellites over the United States for certain homeland security purposes. I think existing law is adequate. I don't think we need a new office at the Homeland Department. And I absolutely believe that the authorities designed by your predecessor were inadequate. I know you're reviewing this, but I thought you should hear one more time how strongly I feel about it.
Number two --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: (As a ?) representative on that, we are reviewing NAO, and we also are doing a privacy review related to NAO, just for your information.
REP. HARMAN: Good. Well, I appreciate that. But I think money would be better spent on priorities you've already identified.
Let me just mention two other issues. One, in this budget there is no request for funds for the exit component of the U.S. Visit program for fiscal year 2010. You may be planning to use a $30 million carry-over account to complete two pilot projects.
But when we were at LAX together -- let me just put both my questions out so that my time doesn't run out -- when we were at LAX together, we noticed that the ingress portion of U.S. Visit is fairly robust, and they're working on it, but the egress portion if zero.
And this is the largest destination airport, I believe, international destination airport, in the country. So there is lots of opportunity for us to learn better where the people we have processed into the country are going and whether they're overstaying visas and doing other things we might object to. So I want to ask you about funding the exit portion of U.S. Visit.
And secondly, you provide funds to send DHS representatives to every fusion center in the U.S. There are 70 such centers. I think that's a great initiative. But we could not find any reference to privacy and civil liberties training, which is a component, I know we all agree, needs to be a central part of what personnel at fusion centers, whether they're DHS personnel or local personnel, do.
And the last thing which I do want to put on the table is small boats. They are a potential vulnerability at our major ports and our smaller ports. And again, we don't see in a specific initiative here when at least it has occurred to me over some years and to your predecessor, Michael Chertoff, that small boats and general aviation were very logical ways that bad things could be brought into our country.
Mr. Chairman, could I just let the secretary answer these questions briefly? My time -- I still have 18 seconds.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I will be brief. On exit, yes. I'm looking at the exit issue more holistically. We have got to have a way to know not only who came in but who has left and to match those things up. So we are working on that.
Small boat -- there is active work being done across department- wide in the federal government on that.
And with respect to deployment to the fusion centers, yes, I have asked the people -- we have -- (inaudible) -- money in the civil rights and civil liberties part of the office. It's reflected in the request for the administrative office of the secretary. A part of that is designed to allow us to do more training.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Smart women solving problems is exactly what we need, I think. Do you agree?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: (Laughs.)
REP. THOMPSON: The gentlelady's time has expired. (Laughter.) But I agree.
We'll now recognize the gentleman from Georgia for five minutes, Mr. Broun.
REP. PAUL BROUN (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, thank you for coming today.
I know that we're all concerned about the safety and security of this nation. Madame Secretary, in your opening statement, you talked about the threat of terrorism, securing our borders, and effective law enforcement. I couldn't agree with you more. There are too many issues that I'd like to bring up now, but we don't have time. But I'd like to address a few.
First, I'd like to associate myself with Mr. Lungren's comments about the danger of releasing terrorists on American soil. Please don't do that. The threat is very real. And I'm looking forward to hearing an actual plan for what the president intends to do with the terrorists that are being detained in Guantanamo.
Secondly, I'd like to talk about oversight. Congress, and this committee in particular, has responsibility to oversee your department. We'd like to be as helpful and effective as possible. However, members of this committee have waited far too long for the inspector general reports, where millions, even billions, of dollars are at stake. And that is completely unacceptable.
I'd like to ask you if the increasing funding requested for the IG is going to be sufficient and if members on this committee can expect more timely responses to their request.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, I believe firmly in the role of an inspector general, particularly with a department like ours that's still being built as -- it's like a plane that we're building while we're flying it. And that's why we requested additional funds there.
We have a lot of oversight in our committee -- in our department. In fact, one of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission was for Congress to reorganize itself to streamline the oversight so that we were not consistently responding to myriad requests.
I want to be with this committee, which I believe is our central authorizing committee in the House of Representatives, as open and responsive and as timely as we can humanly be. We've asked for additional resources to assist us with that.
REP. BROUN: Well, I hope that's so. There have been multiple requests made that have not been timely. And please, if you can, see that they are.
While I recognize the importance of ICE staffing increases on the Southwest border, I think it is important that our efforts on the border do not in any way detract from ICE's interior enforcement mission in other regions, such as mine in Georgia.
Unfortunately, it appears that in the FY '10 budget, it fails to request any additional ICE investigators in other areas. That, combined with new guidelines to focus all work-site enforcement on the employers, will significantly weaken ICE's ability to conduct enforcement operations.
In my home state, the ICE personnel are overwhelmed by the different investigative missions and definitely need more staff. What is the rationale for requesting no additional ICE investigating resources outside the southwestern border?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, first of all, I am a strong ICE enforcement person. I think that's one of the reasons I was brought into this department. I've been doing immigration prosecutions and supervising that sort of work for a number of years.
So I don't want to leave any impression of a false dichotomy, that if you do the border, you can't do the interior. You have to do it all, because you can't have a system where the border is kind of like a gauntlet; if you get through it, you're free. We want interior enforcement as a system backing up all of the work that we're doing at the border.
One area that you should look at is one of the areas we have plussed up on ICE, because I believe also in effective and efficient law enforcement. And all enforcement of immigration doesn't require an investigative agent per se.
For example, on the work-site side, we are adding I-9 auditors. These are people who will actually go in and audit the immigration forms employers are required to have. They are lower paid, quite frankly, than agents. Their work, however, will help us direct which employers deserve or merit further attention by the higher-paid employees. So even as we look at work-site enforcement, we're saying, "Okay, now, how do we staff it appropriately to get the best yield for the dollars that you are supplying?"
REP. BROUN: Thank you. Madame Secretary, I just have one final comment before my time runs out. During your testimony, you talked about securing the border. And I think it's absolutely critical for national security to do that. And the message I'm getting out of the administration is that's not going to be done. We see no funds to further the fencing and things like that. And I just hope that you, as secretary, will be a very strong advocate for securing both borders and not giving amnesty to the criminals here in this country already.
Thank you, Madame Secretary.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sir, may I make a point about the fence, however, just to be very clear? We are completing the fence that has already been appropriated. We are adding technology to the virtual fence now. The first big section is underway. We've now approved the technology.
Some of the glitches that occurred before have been corrected. So that will be underway. This budget does not prevent us for doing some more fencing as a part of a tactical infrastructure with technology and boots on the ground in other parts of the border. But I have never believed and have testified before that simply a fence from Texas or from Brownsville over to San Diego would by itself be effective. We have to have a system
REP. BROUN: I agree with that Madame Secretary. In fact, I visited P-28 last year with this Committee and was impressed with the possibility of doing that and I understand some of the problems involved there and I just hope that we push forward and get this done so that we secure our border. I think it's absolutely critical for national security. Thank you, Madame Secretary, my time has expired. Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: We now recognize the gentleman from Pennsylvania for five minutes, Mr. Carney.
REP. CHRISTOPHER CARNEY (D-PA): Thank you Mr. Chairman and Madame Secretary thank you for showing up today.
I -- couple of questions but first I did want to follow on the discussion you had with Mr. Dent about the extremists report. You know, I would be remiss also as a veteran to say I took offense at that personally and the one in three households in my district did as well. And I really want to understand the process here on how that got out. You told Mr. Dent that you did not authorize that, the release of that.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It was not authorized for release, that is correct.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. What happened?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sir, it was a product that was being circulated at INA. We know there, first of all let me be very clear, it is not the only report out there that says that veterans are targeted for recruitment, it was an assessment, not an accusation. We have and are working with veterans groups --
REP. CARNEY: It didn't say that, it didn't say that.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's right, that's why it should not have gone out. We've apologized for it, the report is no longer available, and we put in place processes to make sure that does not recur.
REP. CARNEY: That didn't answer how it got out in the first place.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It went out because an employee sent it without authorization.
REP. CARNEY: Is that employee still an employee?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Appropriate personnel action is being taken.
REP. CARNEY: Thank you. How many members of the Department of Homeland Security are actually veterans? Do you know?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well you've got the Coast Guard which are active duty --
REP. CARNEY: Yeah, yeah.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It's over 25 percent.
REP. CARNEY: Over 25 percent.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Including the deputy secretary.
REP. CARNEY: Good. I wonder what their take on it was as well. I just -- I'll change the topic here in a second, I've just got to calm down a little bit, but it was, it really hit home hard to me and to our district and to a number of others frankly. And you know, this is not a good start. When I go to town hall meetings and I hear people calling for your resignation. And it is really a problem you know we've got to address this, we really do. And I know you apologized to the American Legion, that's a great first step. But there are a lot of other veterans groups out there that I don't know if you reached out to them as well to --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We have.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. Good. You know, it's just, it's just kind of -- (inaudible).
SEC. NAPOLITANO: You know Representative, one of things that we have talked with, particularly the American Legion about is how we provide at the Department of Homeland Security opportunities for veterans who are returning for work because they're a great employment source for us, they're well trained, they want to serve their country, they've already demonstrated that by their military service. So, you know, sometimes to use the cliche you have to make lemonade out of a lemon and we are working with making sure that DHS is helping them with job fairs and opportunities of that sort so that we continue our linkage with the veterans community.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. Thank you.
I have a question on UAVs on the border, what is the status of that program, where are we?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: There are UAVs being used on the border.
REP. CARNEY: How many?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: I can't give you the number at any given time but we are using them as part of our process of securing and having operational control there.
REP. CARNEY: If you could get more detail the count from your staff that would be great. Are you manned up enough, do you have enough pilots, do you have enough analysts on the ground to follow them --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We believe we do and we believe the budget request is adequate to fill those needs.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. No further questions.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D-TX): Would the gentleman yield for a minute? Here I am, right here.
REP. CARNEY: Yes
REP. JACKSON-LEE : Would you yield for a minute? Let me apologize to the chairman and to the, and I'm just going to raise questions that I hope will have a conversation. I'm only asking to yield because I'm in markup and I will conclude quickly. Thank you very much.
Madame Chair, I just want to get back with you on some issues dealing with TSA in terms of their expanded duties at airports --
REP. THOMPSON: Ms. Jackson-Lee, it is -- (audio break) -- for you to come in and get in front of a lot of the other members who've been here for three hours. So I'm going --
REP. CARNEY: I yield back to the Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Yeah.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: I'll just say that I will ask the questions on the record, thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Yeah.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Didn't mean to be a problem. I'm just in mark up so thank you very much.
REP. THOMPSON: All right. Gentleman from Louisiana for five minutes, Mr. Cao.
REP. ANH "JOSEPH" CAO (R-LA): Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.
First of all Madame Secretary I'd like to thank you for the trip that we made together down to New Orleans. I thought it was quite productive and I'd like to commend you on the changes that you made with respect to the local TRO office; they have been much more efficient and much more cooperative in bringing PW projects forward.
My main concern now is with the appeal process. As you know, prior to Katrina, Charity Hospital was the main provider for urgent care. After Katrina, much of that care was took upon by local hospitals, and they incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. And (Tulane Hospital ?) for instance was threatened with closure but for its purchase by the state's Children Hospital. FEMA has denied the state of Louisiana's first appeal in regards to Charity Hospital. And I believe the denial has dramatically delayed the recovery of the health care system down there in the 2nd district and basically threatened the system with bankruptcy. The appeal process has continually -- does not take into account the plight of the -- (inaudible) -- down there in the district and the struggles of institutions down there in the 2nd District -- (audio break) -- Katrina.
My question to you is if you can tell us what your team has done in Region IV that is different from what the Bush administration did in regards to PW appeals?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, we have done a lot to streamline and resolve the appeal process with respect to the issues in your district. As you know, there's also now arbitration language that Senator Landrieu got enacted. We are working with the White House on finalizing the actual process by which we will be able to arbitrate claims. My hope is that for the things we are unable to resolve -- and we really are trying to resolve as many as we can now -- we want to move the Katrina recovery forward as expeditiously as possible.
But we have a responsibility as well. These are taxpayer dollars, we're not just given an unending pocket here, to make sure they go to qualified projects that need to be compensated. And there are some legitimate differences of opinion. Those ultimately I believe will end up in arbitration, we want to facilitate that arbitration so that decisions are made and people know finally what to do. So we're working all hands on deck on that.
REP. CAO: And you must also understand the frustration of our constituents down there in the district. It's been four years --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: And I've been in office about 100 days, so --
REP. CAO: I --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: -- that four years without my watch.
REP. CAO: -- I fully understand that. And I just want to again reflect the chairman's position on efficiency. What would be the timeline to have this arbitration panel instituted to address these issues?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We're working to have it done as soon as possible.
REP. CAO: Okay. Would that imply weeks, months?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Sir, as soon as possible but within the foreseeable future. I don't want to give you a deadline because everybody has to review, okay, and there are lots of checks that have to be made, but it is moving expeditiously through the process.
REP. CAO: Okay. And with respect to -- (audio break) -- I know that the decisions are made by the FEMA office or FEMA agencies and oftentimes some of those people who denied the original applications might be deciding the appeal process.
Is there a system for a more efficient and objective determination in the appeal process?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, the appeal process is set -- the technical appeal process is set by regulation. It has worked well in many areas and in many instances. But I think Katrina is so unusual in scope and the like, that the arbitration add on and augmentation is going to be very helpful -- not only to resolve things quickly, but to give people a sense that they really had their shot.
REP. CAO: Thank you very much.
I yield the remainder of my time, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
We now recognize the gentlelady from Nevada, Ms. Titus, for five minutes.
REP. DINA TITUS (D-NV): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Madame Secretary, for being here.
I would like to tell you as a former state legislator, I was very glad to have seen this budget and hear your comments about the REAL ID program, because it was estimated in Nevada it would have cost us about $66 million to try to implement it and we did see it as an unfunded mandate. So I appreciate the direction that's going.
I want to ask you, though, about another program. It's the Model Point of Entry Program. McCarran Airport is one of about 20 airports that's part of this program. And I've been talking to officials at McCarran and they're concerned that some of the operations there are dramatically understaffed.
In just one week alone, CPB actions resulted in the losses of about $120,000 just for one airline, because they had to delay and cancel some flights. And so I just wonder -- I'm sure this is the case probably for other airports. And some of our airlines are kind of threatening not to fly to Las Vegas, because it is such a problem. And we certainly can't lose more tourists coming with the state of the economy.
And I just wondered if there's some oversight of this, if you're looking at it, if we can have some input about how we are involved in the decisions that are made in that program so we won't have the kind of problem in the future.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Absolutely. If you have information that you know of at McCarran, if you would give it to us.
But we are, yes, looking at that. And the last thing we want to do is deter legitimate commercial and tourism traffic out of an effort -- out of a pilot. So yes.
REP. TITUS: Well, if I could get that information to somebody we could work on that?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Exactly. Yes.
REP. TITUS: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Since we only have a few minutes, if we can limit to two minutes, we might can at least get a question or two from the rest of members.
Mr. Olson from Texas.
REP. PETE OLSON (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I will do my best to limit to two minutes.
Madame Secretary, thank you for coming today.
What's become a theme between you and I in the two times you've testified here, I'd like to talk about FEMA and the recovery efforts from Ike. And Ike's no longer headline news, but the recovery continues and in many places it's just beginning.
Third most destructive hurricane to make landfall in the United States and many of the communities affected by it desperately need help, specifically if the reimbursement deadlines for debris removal and emergency protective measures were extended six months, it would provide much needed relief -- particularly on the Bolivar Peninsula area.
But unfortunately, FEMA recently made a decision to deny deadline extensions requests for Ike recovery efforts, saying only that they reviewed the information and decided against it. And I must point out again, the communities affected by Katrina, which was an equally devastating hurricane, received numerous deadline extensions for both categories. However, with respect to debris removal, Texas received only one deadline extension and with respect to emergency protective measures, we didn't receive an extension at all.
Now, please don't interpret this as some sort of complaint about Katrina, because that was a very devastating hurricane in that region. You know, the most devastating one -- with Andrew -- in our history. Well, Galveston 1900 was the most devastating one.
But the point is, is Texas did not receive an extension at all. All we're asking for is fair an equal treatment. And could you give me an insight as to why these deadlines were not extended and what we can do on a federal level to ensure that southeast Texas gets the resources they need so they can return to a normal life?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Representative, there are a number of reasons why. Part of it is the amount that already had been, I think, distributed to Texas for that hurricane. In other words, it went to the state for distribution out to the communities.
I would be happy to supply you with a briefing on exactly what has gone out already and why those particular extensions were not granted.
REP. OLSON: I'd greatly appreciate it. I thank you, Secretary.
I yield back my time.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
The gentlelady from California for two minutes.
REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, I'd like to play a little good cop here and use 30 of my seconds.
I want to commend you for the work that you did with the H1N1 virus. And also make sure that although all members may not have had the ability to have you in their district, I have. And we can all sit here and throw rocks and you know, write in the sand. But I don't think anyone -- neither any of our constituents -- can ever say that they haven't ever done something that they would have liked to have done something differently.
We need to judge you on the work that you're doing. And the work that you're doing is excellent and I want to be on the record in saying that. And that's what we need to move forward.
You've been from California, from Los Angeles to Long Beach to San Diego -- all over the place. And that's how I'm judging and that's how my constituents are evaluating the work. So keep it up and it's been a pleasure having you as our secretary for the short time that you've been there.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
REP. SANCHEZ: The second thing I want to say is to bring to your attention that on April 29th, we had a TWIC hearing and it didn't go very well. I don't know if you heard that.
Some of the concerns were the lack of the delay of the TWIC card readers and just the insistence on looking at new technology and old delivery fashions of people coming in, instead of looking to the future.
Your representative spoke about, oh, we're looking at this new technology, because it can be hot and it's outside and raining. And I proceeded to share with her that we can go to any airport and you see the folks going in through the back, coming into the terminals, swiping their cards, switches outside -- rain, winter, sleet, et cetera.
So on behalf of the chairman and our subcommittee, I would just urge you to do a double back on what happened in that hearing and look at the questions that we brought forward. And your addressing it would be very helpful.
Finally, since this is a budget hearing that we're having here, I'll just read my two questions in for the record.
On is that currently we have ships -- and I've discussed this with you -- we have ships that the average ship is 5,600 to 6,000 teu's. The largest ships are 10,000 and the even larger ones now are 14,500. That means that a ship is actually is actually larger than the Empire State Building.
Currently, in our very large ports, we are not prepared with the appropriate fireboats to put out a major disaster that could occur. And so if not in this year's budget, in future budgets, I'd like to have a further discussion and consideration of maybe us looking at the top 10 to start or a project of the top five. But it's a disaster waiting to happen -- those cruise ships, dirty bombs, et cetera. It could be disastrous for us all.
And then finally, my second question was in the budget you have an increase for canines, however, it's -- according to my (vote ?) -- primarily focused on ferries. And I have a tremendous amount of passenger rail, metro rail -- again, susceptible to all sorts of terror. And I'd like to see it expanded to include canine for -- more canines for rail as well.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: We'll work with you on that. Thank you very much.
REP. SANCHEZ: Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: We now recognize the gentleman from Texas -- New Mexico -- Mr. Lujan for five minutes -- two minutes.
REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D-NM): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, it's great to see you again. And I appreciate how accessible you've been to each of us as members of Congress, but also to the committee, on continuing to provide information to us.
Madame Secretary, I would like to begin by first just emphasizing the fact of the importance of our firefighters and first responders, as Mr. Pascrell did. There's no reason for me to get into those details, but to just make sure that we're reinforcing the thought that we do need to provide them the support and resources they need. We usually don't appreciate them until we need them -- as we do many of our men and women who serve our country in different capacities and we need to continue to thank them every day.
Madame Secretary, as I've done in the past visiting with you specifically about our national laboratories and our ability to engage with them to use -- utilize the technological capabilities we have to be able to strengthen the tools and resources that you will need, and all of the personnel that you're responsible with, providing them the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
Recently, Madame Secretary, I was able to visit with you about taking advantage and moving forward with utilizing the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, NISAC, out of New Mexico. And I appreciate the fact that we're taking advantage of their capabilities.
In the area of cybersecurity, because of some of the modeling capabilities that NISAC can present, I would encourage you to explore opportunities within the department to see how we could take advantage of the capabilities in that regard -- specifically with cyber attacks -- that we could probably help provide some additional information or protection with.
And I'm encouraged with the fact of what we've seen in the budget in these specific instances.
I would just like to close, Mr. Chairman, Madame Secretary, with making sure that we're looking to see how some of the small businesses who've done a great job developing technologies, moving forward with providing some of the support that we need to keep our ports safe, to keep roads safer and whether they're looking at cargo -- whatever mechanism they're utilizing to assist in that way -- that we're encouraging and we're making sure that they're provided an opportunity to be able to compete with some of those that may be larger and have more resources to keep them out of playing -- in this field and providing their expertise.
And so making sure, Mr. Chairman, that we're really looking to see how we can support both women and minority small businesses with the technological capabilities that they've been able to bring forward and help provide us some support with.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
We now yield to the gentlelady from New York, Ms. Clarke.
REP. YVETTE CLARKE (D-NY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And it's good to see you again, Madame Secretary.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes.
REP. CLARKE: Earlier this session, the House unanimously passed H.R.559, which is what we call the Fast Redress Act of 2009. This legislation will require the Department of Homeland Security to develop a comprehensive cleared list of all lawful citizens who are mistakenly labeled as terrorists and placed on the "do not fly" list or the watch list.
The president's budget acknowledges that this is a huge problem and has requested $1.3 million and one full-time employee for the management of the DHS TRIP -- excuse me -- basically, TRIP -- Travel Redress Inquiry Program.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Right.
REP. CLARKE: How will the additional funding and staffing allocation improve the overall effectiveness of the program? How many employees are currently dedicated to the program?
And additionally, does the president's budget discuss the centralization of the DHS TRIP processing system? Can you please explain what this centralization entails and how will it work with secure flight in the future?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: The answer is yes. But I think, given the time constraints, what I'd like to do is arrange for a briefing for you and we will work with you on the bill that's moving over to the Senate on this issue.
The goal, obviously, is to remove people from the lists who don't need to be there so we can focus on those who do.
REP. CLARKE: Mr. Chairman, just in closing, it has really become a very serious problem out there for many Americans who are traveling of Muslim descent, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Irish-American, children -- I mean, it's cutting across the board and it's really at, I think, a point where we should be modernizing the system so that we're not misidentifying so many people. They feel very threatened by the process and very stigmatized.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes. And I think there, Representative, one of the things -- getting -- there are different lists, as you know, and different processes by which one's name gets on a list. But where we're focused now not only is on who gets on, but how quickly we can resolve removing someone who is mistakenly on a list.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
Madame Secretary, two items: One is Mr. Cao, who had to leave. FEMA did change its appeal process last year, because there were so many things happening in Louisiana. So there is an independent body that addresses that and I think you'll see some legislation really making that law going forward.
The last question for me is there's been a lot of questions around FEMA acts today. And the issue for this committee is whether or not it's your opinion or the administration's opinion that FEMA should stay in DHS or should be taken out.
What is your position? What is the administration's position? Do you care to comment?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
The Senate just confirmed a new administrator for FEMA last night -- Craig Fugate -- so we now have an administrator who had an extensive background in emergency management in Florida.
But it is my position -- it's the position of the administration -- that FEMA should remain within the Department of Homeland Security.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
Madame Secretary, thank you for being generous with your time.
(Sounds gavel.) Hearing's adjourned.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you, Mr. Chair.