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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Thank you, Chairman Aderholt, for yielding the time.

Mr. Chairman, this is the 10th anniversary bill for this subcommittee. We began work in 2003, and the first three speakers that are on the platform today are the three chairmen of that subcommittee in its 10 years of history. I have the honor of being the first chairman and then was followed by David Price as chairman, and now Robert Aderholt. So we have--if there is any accumulated wisdom, we posses a portion of it.

So we want to thank Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Price for their hard work on this subcommittee. This is truly a bipartisan, nonpartisan subcommittee because the Nation's security cannot bow to any partisan spirits.

I think after these 10 years we can all agree that the country is indeed safer than it was then. The country has thwarted several attempts at terrorist attacks in our skies. We've eliminated the world's most heinous terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and more recently the number two al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But we face constant reminders that the war on terror is anything near over. Our freedom is not free, and we can't skimp on our national security if we want to stay vigilant and, most importantly, safe.

Discretionary funding in this bill totals just over $39 billion, which, indeed, is a cut of $483 million below last year and $393 million below what the President requested. Chairman Aderholt and his subcommittee drafted this bill with four priorities in mind: one, putting security first; second, encouraging strong fiscal discipline; three, mandating robust oversight efforts; and four, boosting the research and grant programs that support American jobs, innovation, and preparedness.

To support and address vital frontline operations, the bill makes smart increases or holds constant programs that enhance intelligence, threat-targeting, or that act as the first line of defense and response. This includes providing funding for the largest immigration detention capacity and number of Border Patrol agents in ICE history.

But at the end of the day, the bill totals less than it did last year, and that's because of thoughtful, responsible reductions. Our limited government resources must be put toward programs and services with proven benefits and tangible results. These cuts targeted programs with known inefficiencies, program delays, excessive overhead costs, or those that simply had lower budget requirements. The bill also rescinds excess or unspent prior-year funds.

Now, as the Department enters its 10th anniversary, we are reminded that the Department in its current form is still ``under construction.'' Though we have seen some real progress made, DHS can still improve the way it spends taxpayer dollars and administers its grant programs.

This legislation, I think, takes the right steps to direct spending accordingly--enacting reforms, requiring tougher oversight, and demanding justifications and spending plans from programs that do not have a history of wise spending decisions.

Again, I want to thank Chairman Aderholt, Ranking Member Price, all of the members of the subcommittee, and the hardworking staff for all the many hours they've spent in drafting this important bill. This legislation is proof that we can do more with less. A reduction in spending, coupled with reforms to encourage efficiency and sustainability, will help us get on a stronger fiscal path.

I believe this is a good bill, Mr. Chairman. It's as good a bill as I've seen in my 10 years on this subcommittee, and I want to, again, congratulate those who had a hand in making it possible.

So I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this bill to help prevent future terrorist attacks, to protect air passengers, and to keep our border secure.


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