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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DENT. I appreciate the gentlelady bringing the IG report to our attention. As Ranking Member Price can attest, the committee has a long, bipartisan history supporting robust funding for the H-60 conversions. In fact, the bill includes funds sufficient to completely recap two H-60 helicopters. Though I am aware CBP has some reservations about conclusions in the IG report, I am a proponent of not paying top dollar when it is not necessary. Consequently, I would like to have an opportunity to dig into these claims before drawing any particular conclusions.

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Mr. DENT. Madam Chairman, I do rise in opposition to this amendment. I'm certainly sympathetic with the predicament of the gentleman from New York--and he's doing his best to represent his district--but this amendment would cut funding for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, or the NBAF, in Manhattan, Kansas, an essential research center for human and animal pathogens, by $404 million and increase funding for research, development, and innovation by an equivalent amount.

The bill has already cut funding by $310 million from the President's request of $714 million. The amount provided in the bill--$404 million--is the amount needed in order to obtain the Kansas cost share and begin construction. I believe Kansas is prepared to offer $202 million in support of this project.

Again, while I understand the gentleman's local district concern--and he's a strong advocate for his district--this amendment is in fact shortsighted. This horse is already out of the barn, so to speak. We have an immediate need to build up our capacity for research into pathogens that afflict animals in our food chain and, by extension, human beings. The Under Secretary for DHS Science and Technology herself has testified the threat of biological attack through our large and vulnerable food chain is a top priority. She has confirmed that NBAF is required to meet this threat. She's also testified that Plum Island, which is in the gentleman's district, of course, cannot meet this need. Yet this amendment would freeze this effort. The amendment would stall a program needed to address a serious, known risk.

I urge opposition to the amendment. We need to get this facility up and running in Kansas.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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