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Katko Opening Statement in DHS Budget Hearing

June 17, 2021

Katko Opening Statement in DHS Budget Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, delivered the following opening statement in a full committee hearing entitled, “A Review of the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security.”

Ranking Member Katko’s Opening Statement (as prepared for delivery)

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing to examine President Biden’s 2022 budget request, and thank you, Mr. Secretary, for taking time to appear before the Committee today. Mr. Secretary, a lot has happened in the homeland since you first appeared before this Committee back in March. Unfortunately, a lot of it has been anything but encouraging, so I look forward to talking about those challenges and how we can work together.

I also hope to soon be conducting these hearings in person. I am encouraged that the Chairman has noted that will be happening soon.

Today, we have a full complement of Republican Members here, who are ready to make room on the dais and work alongside our Democratic colleagues to conduct the important work of this Committee in a bipartisan manner.

Mr. Secretary, I don’t envy the job you have today. The President has submitted the largest budget request, by far, in the history of the United States – $6 trillion dollars. Sadly, if this fiscally irresponsible budget is enacted, our children and our children’s children at a minimum will be paying for it – a burden we should not place on future generations. And despite its high price tag, this budget request is out of touch with reality and more importantly fails to prioritize many of today’s most pressing homeland security threats. To give you a few examples:

  • DHS is asking for $76M for electric vehicles, but there are NO additional appropriations requested for new Border Patrol agents, and CBP’s net discretionary budget has a reduction of $280M.
  • Overall, the FY22 budget asks for less than half a percent (or 0.3%) of an increase for three key DHS law enforcement components, CBP, ICE, and the Coast Guard.
  • When proposed funding for pay increases is set aside, CBP, ICE, and the Coast Guard show a decrease from their enacted levels in their FY22 requests.
  • On the cyber front, the budget requests a 29% increase for the Department of Energy’s cyber activities, but only a 6% increase for CISA.

The Biden budget simply fails to reflect the priorities that are critical to the defense of the homeland. And so, I do not envy you having to come before the Committee and defend this request on behalf of the Administration. I honestly just don’t know how it is possible to spend that much money on a grab bag of far-left proposals, while somehow neglecting to adequately defend the homeland particularly given the rash of major cyber attacks we have seen recently.

Mr. Secretary, unfortunately, since you were last before the Committee, the crisis at the border has not gotten better. In fact, it is trending worse. Just last week, CBP announced that over 180,000 migrants were encountered along the southwest border in the month of May alone, including 121,000 single adults; over 44,600 family units; and over 14,000 unaccompanied minors. We have almost become numb to these numbers, but they continue to be staggering – the 180,000 number represents a 675% increase, and let me say that again, 675% increase from May of 2020.

Despite these numbers, by eliminating border wall funding, President Biden is allowing cartels, smugglers, criminals, and traffickers to continue exploiting the border.

And sadly, neither the President nor the Vice President has even bothered to visit the border. In fact, in a recent interview, Vice President Harris laughed off the idea, even though, in theory, President Biden has put her in charge of the crisis.

This is no laughing matter.

One aspect of this crisis that has not been highlighted, and truly makes every state a border state, is the explosion of illegal drugs that have been streaming across the border. This particularly impacts my district in central New York and so many other communities across this country.

According to CBP, drug seizures were up 18 percent in May, from April 2021. Methamphetamine seizures increased 53 percent, heroin seizures increased 7 percent, and fentanyl seizures increased 9 percent. CBP continues to see an alarming surge in fentanyl seizures, which are 56 percent higher through May of FY21 than all of FY20. This means that more than 600 pounds of deadly fentanyl was seized every month for the last 12 months — and that is a record. In the last six months alone, CBP has seized 5,400 pounds of fentanyl, enough lethal doses to kill 1.2 billion people or the entire population of the United States more than three times over. More than 90,000 Americans died of overdoses between September 2019 and September 2020. Last year, drug overdose deaths rose by more than 27 percent in New York state alone.

This is unacceptable, and Homeland Republicans will continue pressuring the Administration to reverse its disastrous executive orders and work with us on stronger border security measures. Mr. Secretary, last time you were here, I stated that I didn’t want to just be a bomb thrower but wanted to work with you on solutions – that offer remains. I have introduced several bipartisan bills, including H.R. 2321 that would require DHS and federal partners to establish an agile plan to respond to irregular migration surges with benchmarks in place for activation. This legislation received bipartisan support in the Senate earlier this month. I would ask that you look at this legislation, as I believe it is a commonsense approach to at least assisting our frontline law enforcement in managing the crisis at the border.

While the President’s request makes modest increases to CISA’s budget, CISA needs sustained, robust funding to carry out its mission and nimbly respond to evolving threats. In the past 6 months, CISA has worked to mitigate multiple significant cyber incidents facing Federal networks, as well as the sharp increase in devastating ransomware attacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Unfortunately, ransomware attacks are becoming a more pervasive threat, and I feel that we, as a country continue to fall further and further behind – we continue to play defense instead of being on offense. I am concerned that the President’s budget included a sharper increase for other federal cybersecurity efforts, but not CISA, especially given the attacks CISA is tasked to defend. How can CISA be expected to continue to address these cyber threats head on with such a small budget given that the global financial impact of these cyber attacks amounts to over $1 trillion annually?

You have also acknowledged that CISA needs to be the quarterback of the .gov, and I fully agree, but this budget fails to do that. I believe that CISA needs to be a $5B agency in 5 years, and that is not going to happen with meager increases.

I look forward to hearing from the Secretary today, but like I said, I do not envy his job. This budget proposal manages to somehow be incredibly bloated while at the same time, lack the funding we need to protect the homeland.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.