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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. DAVIS of California. Mr. Chairman, I rise to join the gentlelady from California in this amendment to increase staffing funding for Customs and Border Protection.

This is a critical issue for our economic competitiveness. If our Nation is going to compete globally, we need to think of ports of entry as strategic assets and real opportunities to expand our economy. Without adequate resources and staffing, wait times at ports of entry grow longer and longer. And every minute, Mr. Chairman, that goods and people sit at the border waiting to cross is an opportunity lost. That's opportunities lost for American businesses, for manufacturers, and workers. In total, these long delays are projected to result in lost output of more than $86 billion over the next 10 years. In this tough economy, I don't think we can afford to lose these precious dollars.

And yet, despite the overwhelming need, increases in staffing in past years represent only a small fraction of what is needed to fully staff our ports of entry, according to the Government Accountability Office. To fully meet this need, we need to ensure that CBP has the resources it needs to get the job done. At a time when we need commerce to be moving full steam ahead to drive an economic recovery, we can't afford understaffing at our ports of entry.

Additional funding provided by this amendment to hire additional CBP officers will allow for faster processing times through ports of entry and allow more goods to flow through our borders. By facilitating trade, we not only support businesses and jobs, but we also add revenue, as CBP is the second largest source of revenue for the Treasury. It is only second to the Internal Revenue Service.

As my colleague has stated, the offset for this provision is a cut in funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which was appropriated about $75 million in spite of the fact that the administration did not request these funds. The National Academy of Science is reviewing the security risk of revised design measures right now, and before that risk is fully mitigated, it's premature, I think, premature to appropriate additional funds, especially when funding for FY 2011 and FY 2012 remains unobligated. So this amendment, Mr. Chairman, will put these dollars to better use by promoting our economic growth, and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting it.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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