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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank Congressman Lewis for offering this amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill. The amendment is designed to prevent the U.S. Department of Justice from closing and reducing its antitrust division field offices from seven to only three in a country of over 300 million people in 50 States.

The Department of Justice literally and regrettably wants to, or is proposing to, close four of its antitrust field offices in response to budgetary pressures. This is partly because the Republican budget fails to provide the administration with the resources it has requested to carry out its basic mission.

Under Republican leadership, the legal activities account, which funds the antitrust division, was 2.2 percent less than the administration requested for the fiscal year 2012, and that resulted in a 5.2 percent cut compared to fiscal year 2011. When we cut 5.2 percent out of a particular account that primarily funds salaries and expenses, there are consequences.

However, congressional Republicans are not totally to blame. The President's budget says that the antitrust division is expecting an increase in caseloads and requested additional funding to administer the increase in caseload. Yet the administration wants to close over half the division's offices. What sense does this even make?

Also, the antitrust division is a key participant on the President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. How can the division be a helpful participant when it is reducing its footprint across our country?

In one of America's poorest cities with lingering high unemployment--Cleveland, Ohio--that Department of Justice antitrust field office is scheduled to be closed. I'm concerned about the impact it will have, first of all, on the administration of justice in the field of antitrust, but also on the employees, businesses, and consumers that serve us in the greater Ohio area.

I'm very concerned for the hardworking employees in the Cleveland field office, one of the most efficient antitrust divisions in the country because its employees are so talented. Cleveland is a community that still endures high unemployment due to the economic crisis and its lingering effects. Why would we want to do this now?

From my perspective, the amount of money the Department of Justice expects to save will not actually materialize because costs will increase elsewhere as a result of a reduced footprint across the country.

The reality is we should be furthering our support for the antitrust division, not closing offices or cutting funds. As currently structured, the antitrust division is one of the most efficient Agencies within the Federal Government. Its base budget was $159 million. Yet from 2009 to 2011 the division's efforts resulted in $2 billion in criminal fines and antitrust violations. That's a seven-to-one return on investment.

In addition, over the last two fiscal years, the antitrust division has been estimated to have saved consumers over $650 million as a result of its criminal enforcement efforts. Furthermore, the antitrust division successfully resolved 97 percent of its criminal cases in fiscal year 2011.

Without question, the antitrust division more than pays for itself seven times over. It has an outstanding track record. We should leave its current structure alone. In fact, we should seek to strengthen it and get greater return to the taxpayer for every dollar invested. No matter what happens here today or tomorrow, I'll continue to work with the other body to protect the antitrust division's presence across this country and work to ensure that the employees in communities like Cleveland and the other communities are treated fairly, because in the final analysis, the American people need a robust antitrust division at the Department of Justice.

Mr. Chairman, I support the Lewis amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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