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Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. DICKS. I thank the ranking member, the gentleman from California, for yielding to me, and I would like to thank Chairman Crenshaw, Chairman Rogers, and the staff on both sides for what they have been able to do to accommodate some of the priorities of Democratic Members as they have assembled the bill.

This bill would fund the legislative branch, minus the Senate, at $3.3 billion. This represents a 6.4 percent reduction from fiscal year 2011 and a 9 percent reduction from fiscal year 2010.

I appreciate the overview that Congressman Honda has provided. And at this point, I would simply like to join him in expressing serious concern on behalf of our colleagues regarding security for our district offices and for official events involving Members as well as the general public. After the tragic shooting in Tucson, the Congress was left to reevaluate security in Members' districts. While it is of utmost importance to ensure that citizens continue to have access to their Representatives in Congress, the Tucson event is a reminder that we must be vigilant in providing security to Members, to our staffs, and to our constituents who attend our events.

The effort by the House to improve district security after the shooting put much of the burden on the Members' offices, including the payment for that security. As Members' office budgets are being cut for the second time in a year, there has to be reconsideration of that policy, perhaps with an eye towards a more centralized approach to security.

While we have not seen specific estimates of the costs involved here, it would clearly represent a substantial expense, especially if the budget of the Secret Service is used as a guide. The Capitol Police appropriations recommended in this bill is $340 million, equal to the fiscal year 2011 level. The Capitol Police protect the entire Capitol Complex, with primary security responsibilities for 541 Members of Congress, Resident Commissioners, and Delegates. By comparison, the House-passed Secret Service appropriation bill included over $1 billion for the protection of 50 to 70 individuals, including the President.

If the Capitol Police are going to be required to assess more threats against Members and take a more active role in district security, the Capitol Police budget should reflect these increased demands. Conversely, if Members' individual office budgets are going to continue to assume these additional security costs, their budget should somehow reflect this responsibility.

Again, I thank the ranking member for his work on the bill and the chairman and Mr. Rogers and our staff. We have a great staff, and they do great work for this institution.

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