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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would reduce the administrative salaries in the expense accounts in the underlying bill by just 3 percent, with the exception of the U.S. Coast Guard. It does not affect their expenses.

Our Nation is facing a total economic meltdown, and now more than ever it is apparent that we have to stop the outrageous spending that's going on here in Washington, D.C.

Over the last 2 years, House Members have voted to reduce their own administrative accounts--their Members' Representational Allowances--by more than 11 percent. Yet over that same period of time, many agencies have seen minimal reductions and, in some cases, even increases in their accounts.

For a good example, the TSA has only experienced a 3.5 percent cut over the last 2 years. I know many of my colleagues can agree that the TSA has not only been a complete and utter failure, but it also has been a colossal waste of taxpayer money, amounting to almost $60 billion.

Moreover, TSA personnel have not prevented the first terrorist attack from happening on American soil. In fact, at least 17 known terrorists have flown in the United States more than 24 different times. Yet this year, TSA screener personnel will receive increased funding for their compensation and benefits that totals more than $30 million above fiscal year 2012. This is totally unacceptable.

Another example I'd like to point to in the underlying bill is funding for a brand new agency called the Office of Biometric Identity Management. This new office will receive almost $200 million for their administrative salaries and expense accounts. Mr. Chairman, we need to be looking for areas where we can make cuts, not for opportunities to grow the size and scope of the Federal Government.

Now, certainly we can all agree that many of the offices, agencies, and individuals employed by the Department of Homeland Security are very deserving of the pay for which they receive but, Mr. Chairman, let's be realistic. If we are serious about reducing spending and reducing our deficit, we have to ask every agency to follow Congress' lead and take a small reduction in their administrative funding instead of asking for increases or trying to create new programs.

To be clear, a 3 percent reduction in these accounts would, in many cases, still result in less than a 10 percent reduction in funding from FY11 levels.

While this amount is small, it would pay dividends, huge dividends, resulting in nearly a half a billion dollars in savings in this bill alone.

It is long past time to get serious about spending, Mr. Chairman, and this amendment represents a balanced way to achieve significant savings. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment and to reduce spending in these accounts by just a mere 3 percent.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would completely eliminate funding for the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, and transfer that money into the deficit reduction account, saving taxpayers more than $5 billion.

The fact of the matter is very simple: TSA is not doing the job that it was created to do 10 years ago.

Originally, Congress intended for TSA to be an efficient, cutting-edge, intelligence-based agency responsible for protecting our airports and keeping passengers safe and secure. Today it has grown into one of the largest bureaucracies, bigger than the Departments of Labor, Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and State all combined--larger than all of those. They've had a 400 percent increase in staff over the past 10 years. A good portion of that has gone to headquarter employees making six figures on average.

What's worse is that American passengers aren't getting a good return on the nearly $60 billion that they've invested and spent on TSA. Reports indicate that more than 25,000 security breaches have occurred at U.S. airports since 2001. Plus, we have evidence today that terrorists that are on the no-fly list have been still able to fly successfully aboard U.S. aircraft.

On top of this startling information, we've all seen the recent news headlines detailing the lack of professionalism, unreliable training, and even alleged corruption in the TSA ranks. Just about the only thing that TSA is good at is using its extensive power to violate American travelers' civil liberties. The stories range from embarrassing near-strip searches all the way to agents being hired without background checks. This is all evidence that TSA has veered dangerously off course from what it was intended to do.

I've repeatedly asked that we use our resources to focus on intelligence and technologies that can be more effective when it comes to catching terrorists--instead of patting down grandmas and children. I've demanded Administrator Pistole's resignation, and I've called for the privatization of TSA, along with some of my other colleagues here in the House. But we have still yet to see the necessary changes made to the TSA personnel or procedures that will ensure the safety and security of our airports and passengers.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment to zero out funding for TSA forces Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to start all over again, start from scratch on a better, more effective, more progressive system for protecting our airlines without violating the person and liberties of our citizens.

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

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the gentleman from Arizona's amendment.

In fact, he beat me to the microphone because I had intended to introduce the same amendment that he is presenting to us now.

I would like to say that this amendment of Mr. Flake's will keep funding the State and local programs that fall under FEMA set at those 2012 levels. It does not affect disaster assistance, only State and local programs.

Mr. Chairman, our Nation is broke and many Agencies, along with entire branches of the Federal Government, are experiencing drastic cutbacks. As it stands, the underlying bill increases funding for State and local FEMA programs by more than $400 million. While I'm well aware that FEMA provides necessary support for various grant training programs, I'm also a firm believer that these would be better regulated solely by State and local governments, not by the Federal Government.

Therefore, I feel it is more than reasonable to ask that, for right now, particularly while we are in such a crisis economically as a Nation, that we simply freeze funding for these programs at the 2012 level.

I congratulate my friend from Arizona (Mr. Flake) for his amendment and I heartily support it. I congratulate him on his longstanding efforts to bring the Federal Government into fiscal sanity. I urge support of this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. I thank my friend from North Carolina for yielding.

I would just remark about, Mr. Chairman, my friend from Washington State's remark. The countries in Europe are failing because they spend too much money. The government does not make jobs. It's the private sector that makes jobs. Republicans have passed bill after bill after bill here in the House that Harry Reid throws in the trash can as soon as they get over to the Senate.

We've passed bills here that would lower the cost of gasoline and oil. Natural gas, of course, is very low because of the amount that we have, and it's gone down because the marketplace works. We need to develop our God-given resources.

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