U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, today discussed the disproportionate share of our nation's debt and deficit reduction that has come from spending cuts as opposed to revenues, as well as the devastating impact that the sequester would have on our border security.
"The other side of the aisle continues to argue against any new revenues and for a cuts only approach to deal with our debt and deficit. The reality is that our deficit reduction so far has been completely lopsided - 72 percent has come from spending cuts and only 28 percent has come from revenues. We have already cut $1.5 trillion from discretionary spending over the next 10 years, and before this cut, revenues into the federal government as a percentage of the GDP were at the lowest level since before the Eisenhower Administration - 15.1 percent. This is not a balanced approach," Sen. Landrieu said.
Yet the same people who argue for no new revenues, come to my subcommittee and demand that we double the number of border security agents - so we have done that. Since 2005 we have increased the number of agents from 9,000 to 21,000 and we have built 650 miles of fence covering a third of our southwest border. We have done all this at their request, but now these same members won't help us find additional money to maintain security."
Sen. Landrieu then asked Sec. of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano to explain how cuts in the sequester would affect the border. The Secretary replied that the Obama administration has already made record investments in border security, but under the sequester, DHS expects to lose the equivalent of 5,000 of the current 21,000 border patrol agents, due to furloughs. It will also need to furlough officers at our air and seaports 12 to 14 days each, and will not be able to invest in important border security technology, resulting in longer wait times, and less security. She also said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not be able to meet its congressionally mandated level of 34,000 detention beds.
Sec. Napolitano also highlighted that wait times at large U.S. airports could grow by over an hour due to cuts in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) funding.