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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that, during further consideration of H.R. 5855 in the Committee of the Whole pursuant to House Resolution 667, no further amendment to the bill may be offered except (1) pro forma amendments offered at any point in the reading by the chair or ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations or their respective designees for the purpose of debate; and (2) further amendments, if offered on this legislative day, as follows: an amendment by Mr. Aderholt regarding funding levels; an amendment en bloc by Mr. Aderholt consisting of amendments specified in this order not earlier disposed of; an amendment by Ms. Baldwin limiting funds regarding Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter class of ships; an amendment by Mr. Barletta regarding section 642(a) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996; an amendment by Mrs. Black limiting funds for the position of Public Advocate within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; an amendment by Mrs. Blackburn regarding Transportation Security Administration employee training; an amendment by Mrs. Blackburn regarding Transportation Security Administration teams used in any operation; an amendment by Mr. Brooks regarding section 133.21(b)(1) of title 19, Code of Federal Regulations; an amendment by Mr. Broun of Georgia limiting funds for Behavior Detection Officers or the SPOT program; an amendment by Mr. Broun of Georgia regarding the Screening Partnership Program; an amendment by Ms. Brown of Florida regarding funding levels for U.S. Customs and Border Protection; an amendment by Mr. Cravaack limiting funds for security screening personnel; an amendment by Mr. Cravaack limiting funds to pay rent for storage of screening equipment; an amendment by Mr. Cravaack regarding section 236(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; an amendment by Mr. Crowley regarding India; an amendment by Mr. Culberson regarding the Immigration and Nationality Act; an amendment by Mr. Davis of Illinois regarding cybersecurity; an amendment by Mr. Ellison regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1964; an amendment by Mr. Engel regarding light duty vehicles; an amendment by Mr. Flores regarding section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007; an amendment by Mr. Fortenberry limiting funds to restrict airline passengers from recording; an amendment by Mr. Garrett limiting funds for VIPR teams; an amendment by Mr. Graves of Missouri regarding the rule entitled Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives; an amendment by Ms. Hochul regarding unclaimed clothing; an amendment by Mr. Holt limiting funds for aerial vehicles; an amendment by Mr. Holt regarding scanning systems; an amendment by Mr. King of Iowa regarding Department of Homeland Security policy documents; an amendment by Mr. King of Iowa regarding Executive Order 13166; an amendment by Mr. Landry regarding aerial vehicles; an amendment by Mr. Loebsack limiting funds to deny assistance obligated by FEMA; an amendment by Mr. Meehan regarding Boko Haram; an amendment by Ms. Moore regarding a pending application for status under the Immigration and Nationality Act; an amendment by Mr. Murphy of Pennsylvania regarding a Federal Air Marshal Service office; an amendment by Mr. Pierluisi regarding section 1301(a) of title 31, United States Code; an amendment by Mr. Polis regarding an across-the-board reduction; an amendment by Mr. Price of Georgia regarding immigration laws; an amendment by Mr. Ryan of Ohio regarding visas; an amendment by Mr. Schweikert regarding the Secure Communities program; an amendment by Mr. Sullivan regarding section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; an amendment by Mr. Thompson of California regarding deportation of certain aliens; an amendment by Mr. Turner of New York regarding surface transportation security inspectors; and an amendment by Mr. Walsh of Illinois regarding software licenses; and that each such further amendment may be offered only by the Member named in this request or a designee, shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole, and shall not be subject to amendment except that the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations (or their respective designees) each may offer one pro forma amendment for the purpose of debate; and that each further amendment shall be debatable for 10 minutes, equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Chairman, I rise regrettably to oppose the amendment. I think this amendment is very well-intentioned; but the amendment, unfortunately, would force the TSA to wear civilian gear and this could possibly confuse the public as to whether the screeners have the authorized duty to carry out their lawful inspection of screening. It would also require the TSA to discard millions of dollars' worth of current uniforms, and the bill does not fund any new uniforms.

I do think that there are some things we need to address, and I appreciate the gentlelady from Tennessee bringing it to my attention here, and I would be happy to work with her. Again, I have to oppose the amendment, but like I said, I would be happy to work with her and see if we can't come to some accommodation on this.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. I want to thank the gentleman for raising these issues and bringing it to our attention.

Just this past year, the district I represent was devastated by tornados. So the people of the district that I represent know firsthand what it is to work with FEMA and the recovery from a horrific disaster.

I understand my colleague's concerns and agree that we need to be cognizant of the burden on local communities if they've been awarded recovery funds and then have those funds taken back through no fault of their own.

My colleague certainly raises some commonsense points and issues that we should look at to address and to make sure that communities across the country aren't expending local funds for no reason, so that taxpayer dollars are protected at both the local and at the Federal level, so there is a better and more cooperative partnership between the Federal Government and these recovering communities.

It is important that the State and the Federal partnership on disaster recovery is maintained in a collaborative and productive fashion, and I agree with my colleague from Iowa and hope that the issues like this don't disrupt the partnership that lead to communities doubting the sincerity or the ability of their government to come to their aid in such a time as needed.

I know that everyone wants favorable outcomes and for our communities to recover as quickly as possible and agree that communities shouldn't shoulder the burden of an agency's mistake.

As recovery continues in the district of my colleague from Iowa, I pledge to work with him and FEMA to address these issues and look forward to recovery in a timely manner.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. I thank the gentleman for his continued leadership on cybersecurity matters and welcome the opportunity to engage him in this colloquy. Ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security has the resources needed to execute cybersecurity responsibilities entrusted to it is
extremely important to both the short-term and the long-term success of its critical cybersecurity roles.

I assure the gentleman that we will continue to examine how to best proceed to make sure the Department has adequately and effectively resourced to deter and defend against cybersecurity threats.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Chairman, I rise to reluctantly oppose the gentleman's amendment.

I appreciate that he has brought this to our attention. I just found out about the matter today. I would like to work with the gentleman from New York. However, I do have concerns about the broadness of this amendment.

The TSA surface transportation security inspectors, or TSI, provide a number of security functions agreed on as a result of consultation with the State, Federal, local, and private stakeholders. In addition, the inspectors provide the subject matter expertise for FEMA to evaluate eligibility for surface transportation security grants.

The amendment that the gentleman brings up tonight would result in laying off about 240 inspectors, which is about 60 percent of the current workforce. This would be an excessive action to address what seems to be a need to better focus on the operations of surface inspectors. It would effectively take TSA out of the surface security realm at a time when we know terrorists and those interested in attacking our mass transit and other surface modes of transportation are focused on just that, so I urge my colleagues to reject the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition because the amendment would slash critical funding for our Nation's homeland security. For the third fiscal year in a row, this bill that we have before us accomplishes a dual goal that we have constantly worked on--fiscal discipline and necessary funding for the homeland security needs of this country.

The bill reduces the departmental management by $191 million, or 17 percent, below the request and $71 million below last year. It demands efficiency from all agencies, including an overall reduction of the TSA of $147 million, or 3 percent. It cuts programs that are not performing and reduces bureaucratic overhead.

The Department is an Agency of 230,000 employees with an absolutely critical Federal mission. So I would urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Chairman, I rise reluctantly to to oppose the amendment of my good friend from Georgia.

I do support privatized screening; however, I'm concerned how the amendment that has been proposed by the gentleman would be applied. The effect of the amendment would be to prohibit TSA from canceling a contract for cause, such as the case where a privatized screening airport fails to comply with applicable laws and security requirements.

The amendment may be intended to restrain TSA from capriciously canceling contracts, but it would go too far, and it would tie the TSA's hands.

So again, I reluctantly cannot support my colleague's amendment, and I would urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. I do appreciate the gentleman's oversight concerns and his suggestions on how we can make this a better program. However, behavior detection officers are actually a meaningful layer of our Nation's risk-based approach to security.

While there have been questions about the overall size of the program and the science behind it, this committee has continued to address any concerns through robust oversight. I would welcome the opportunity to work with the gentleman from Georgia on how we might address these concerns, but this does not mean that we should completely destroy a program that is designed to counter new and evolving tactics being developed by terrorists and our adversaries as we speak.

As recently as last month, after a foiled terrorist plot that originated in Yemen, we learned that our enemies are still actively plotting to hit our aviation sector. These operatives are devising new methods for attacking this Nation, and some of them are more difficult to detect using the traditional screening methods that we normally see in the airports. This is where the behavior detection officers come into play. These officers serve as additional layers, as I mentioned, of defense to root out these adversaries who would try to slip through our defenses.

This committee will continue to make sure that the BDO program is rightly sized and that the Department validates the science behind it. It is something that we have certainly focused on this year and that we need to continue to focus on. Again, cutting the entire program would be irresponsible and would open up holes in our Nation's security posture, particularly in light of the continued attempts to attack our Nation's transportation system.

I would urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Speaker, this bill is already robust on cybersecurity. It provides a substantial increase in every cybersecurity program across the Department.

Furthermore, this bill already does more for grants to high-risk areas than any previous DHS appropriations bill, and we increase grants by more than $400 million. Let me repeat that: By more than $400 million we increase grants.

In short, this motion is not needed. This bill cuts spending overall, but it also fully sustains all frontline and high-risk operation. It is a balanced bill. It is a disciplined bill. It is a bill worthy of support.

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