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Introduction of Legislation that Will Ensure that Federal Money Granted to State and Local Law Enforcement Is Used for Its Intended purpose

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation that will ensure that federal money granted to state and local law enforcement is used for its intended purpose, and not in violation of our constitutional right to equal protection. As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I am proud of the service we provide to the American people. Through the Department of Homeland Security, over $35 billion in federal funds have been granted to local and state governments for counterterrorism programs that have kept our homeland safe since 9/11.

Unfortunately, not every dime of federally granted money has been used wisely. Troubling reports demonstrate that DHS grants have been used to fund biased training activities that are inaccurate, surveillance programs that target members of neighborhoods simply because of their religion, and other activities that are overbroad and compromise our security. Aside from being unconstitutional, these programs fail to narrowly target individuals that are actual security threats.
Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that secures our homeland, while maintaining the integrity of federal grants. This legislation will require that DHS counterterrorism grants are used to fund training programs developed by the Department of Homeland Security, or training programs that are pre-approved by the Department's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and its Privacy Office. Additionally, the bill will require that the Department's Inspector General regularly review DHS funded programs to ensure that they are not used to support civil rights violations, including racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.

Mr. Speaker, we all know the often quoted statement from Ben Franklin, one of the authors of the Constitution, that ``anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.'' Today, we need both security and liberty, and can ill-afford to sacrifice either. These two concepts--security and liberty--are national interests that work hand-in-hand; when one is dismissed, the other is inherently discarded. This legislation is as much about the liberty of a few, as it is about the security of this whole nation.

I hope my colleagues join my effort to restore the integrity of taxpayers' dollars; let us provide the appropriate tools to law enforcement so that they may secure our homeland well; nevertheless, let us also protect the American people from unreasonable government treatment by enacting this legislation.

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