|WASHINGTON, DC— House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) delivered the following opening statement at the Committee’s Organizational Meeting for the 118th Congress.
I would like to welcome Members of the Committee on Homeland Security to the 118th Congress – both our new Members and those returning. I am honored to lead the Committee on Homeland Security – after a career dedicated to serving our nation. I am fortunate to be joined on the Committee by a talented group of Members – who bring unique perspectives and experiences from across our great country to advance our mission.
I thank Ranking Member Thompson and all our Members for their collaboration in finalizing our Committee’s Rules so that we can get on to the business of holding the Biden administration accountable and protecting the security of the homeland.
Stood up in response to the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security is tasked with the critical role of protecting Americans from a dynamic and persistent threat landscape. This Committee must ensure that DHS is fulfilling its mission in the defense of our homeland—a role that leaves no room for error.
This Committee has traditionally been one of great bipartisanship. Securing the homeland is an American imperative. I hope for productive partnership, where possible, with my Democrat colleagues. Where there is disagreement, Homeland Republicans will be respectful, but forceful, in offering our vision and our solutions. The stakes are too high for any other approach.
We must recognize the pressing crises created and aggravated by the Biden administration that threaten our homeland in unprecedented ways. No longer will the Committee tolerate this total dereliction of duty at our Southwest border.
For over two years at our Southwest border, there has been no semblance of law and order. Ensuring the sovereignty and integrity of our territorial borders is not a radical concept. We are a nation of laws and the willful erosion of those laws is counterproductive to the fabric of our society. Border Security is national security. We must know who and what is coming across our borders and through our ports of entry to keep America safe.
The lack of support from the Department and the Biden administration for the brave agents of the U.S. Border Patrol has been infuriating to witness. These men and women work tirelessly as they are forced to contend with the traumatic human toll of the border crisis on a daily basis—all while being vilified by political appointees in the Biden administration and the media. There have been over 4.5 million migrant encounters since the Biden administration took office. Just this last December, CBP encountered the highest monthly total of migrants in the agency’s history. Fentanyl and other deadly drugs continue to pour through the open Southwest border, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans and destroying lives—all across this country. Perhaps most alarming is the growing number of known or suspected terrorists attempting to enter the country between ports of entry – 98 in fiscal year 2022 and 38 already in the first three months of this fiscal year.
We will legislate as part of our Commitment to America to empower, rather than degrade and abandon our brave CBP personnel and frontline law enforcement. We will address the unimpeded flow of migrants and drugs to protect our homeland and our people. And make no mistake, we will absolutely hold the Biden administration and Secretary Mayorkas accountable for their negligence.
We must also work to further secure our cyber border. Over the past few years, malicious foreign adversaries have made significant threats to our critical infrastructure. Cyber attackers continue to increase their sophistication and persistence, and if we don’t have a sufficient defensive scheme in place, the outcome will be catastrophic. I know this is a concern shared on both sides of the aisle, and I look forward to building on the Committee’s record of significant, bipartisan legislative success in the cyber arena.
Cybersecurity remains a top priority for our new House Majority, especially on this Committee. And I want to thank Speaker McCarthy for his leadership in taking bold action to strengthen the Committee’s cybersecurity jurisdiction in this year’s House Rules package.
Our charge has never been clearer. We will work to responsibly mature CISA, provide oversight of other component cybersecurity functions, and strengthen the security of our federal networks and critical infrastructure. This can be done without overly burdening the private sector, which is why I remain concerned with the Biden administration’s aggressive regulatory approach. We will focus on building trust, partnership, and transparency rather than duplicative and ineffective regulatory regimes.
Further, our oversight and legislative agenda will take a fresh look at DHS as a whole with the goal of reforming it into an agency that is competent in, and worthy of, protecting Americans. As I said earlier, I hope for bipartisanship and look forward to working together, but we will hold this Administration accountable for its failures and shortcomings, especially at the Department.
Finally, considering recent events, I want to make it clear to all Members of this Committee how seriously I take classified material. As a former special operator, I know that anytime classified material is leaked or not stored properly, it creates a potential risk to the lives of men and women who serve our great nation. I will not tolerate any Member jeopardizing classified material. We are here to do a serious job and will be presented with sensitive information, so it must be handled as such.
While we may disagree on policy or approach for securing our homeland, that doesn’t mean we need to be disagreeable. I ask all Members to remember why we are here today and every day, and to remain focused on facts and policy rather than personal attacks. This committee assignment will involve the most important work each of us will engage in throughout our time in Congress. I am grateful for being entrusted with this task, and I am excited to get to work.