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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. Mr. Chairman, I had intended to or had considered offering an amendment again this year concerning the Federal Air Marshal Program. I offered an amendment last year to simply keep the Federal air marshals at level funding. They were approaching almost $1 billion spending each year, and they've been given 10 straight years of increases.

This program, though, was called to my attention by an article that I read in USA Today in which they said that more air marshals had been arrested than had been arrests made by air marshals, and that they were spending approximately $200 million per arrest each year. I became convinced, because of that report and other reports, that this really was probably one of the most useless, needless agencies in the entire Federal Government. But I offered the amendment knowing that it's almost impossible to cut a law enforcement agency or an agency that can claim it's doing something toward aviation safety and security. So my amendment received a lot more votes than I expected but did not pass.

But at that time, Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Price assured me that they would look a little more closely at this program, and I feel that they have done so. So I rise to commend them and tell them that I appreciate the fact that they have taken an $86.5 million cut to this program. That is, frankly, more than I had planned to cut in the amendment that I offered last year.

I want to say that I am a really strong supporter of law enforcement--always have been and always will be--but when you take scarce law enforcement dollars that are especially needed for our local law enforcement people, who are the ones out there fighting the real crime that needs to be fought, then you're depriving the agencies that really need it when you give it to an agency like the Federal Air Marshal Program that is doing almost no good whatsoever for this country. Almost every Member in this Congress flies a couple of times each week; thus, we're doing the same thing that these Federal air marshals are doing. It's one of the softest, easiest jobs in the Federal Government just to fly back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

So I want to say that I appreciate the fact that Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Price have agreed to this $86.5 million cut. I wish it was a lot more, and I still think this agency needs to be eliminated, but I do appreciate the progress that's being made thus far. So I will not offer an amendment this year because I think at least we've started in the right direction on this program.

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