Rep. Roybal-Allard House Speech on DHS Continuing Resolution
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, spoke in the House tonight in support of the continuing resolution to extend Homeland Security funding through February 8, 2019. Her statement can be viewed here, and a copy of her statement is below.
Madam Speaker, today is the beginning of the 116th Congress.
The first and most basic responsibility this House has is to reopen our government to serve the needs of the American people.
The greatest obstacle in keeping the government open has been disagreements on how to spend homeland security dollars.
That is why, in the best interests of the country, it makes sense to reopen the government by passing the remaining six bipartisan funding bills for fiscal year 2019, and to reopen the Department of Homeland Security through a short-term continuing resolution.
The resolution before us would do just that. It would re-open the Department of Homeland Security through February 8th of this year.
This would give us time to negotiate a DHS funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year based on the most current needs assessment, such as meeting the health needs of children in border custody.
The ability to reach a full-year funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security will not be possible, however, if the president is unwilling to change his focus from a campaign promise to one that realistically addresses the most urgent and immediate national security vulnerabilities our homeland faces today.
This means any serious discussion of homeland security investments must include funding for:
• Hiring more law enforcement agents to focus on opioid, gang, trade, and child exploitation investigations.
• Funding for the hiring of additional customs officers to intercept illicit drugs and other contraband, almost all of which comes into our country through the ports of entry.
• It must also include investing more in first responder grants to better prepare states and localities to prevent and respond to terrorism and disasters of every kind.
• And it must contain funding for the recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s air and sea fleets, including funding for the procurement of our first heavy icebreaker since the 1970s – because as the Arctic ice recedes, Russia, China and other countries are winning the race to lay claim to the vast resources of that region.
While border security is important, it is only one of many pieces of the homeland security mission, which includes criminal investigations, first responder preparedness, disaster response, the protection of our cyber networks, and the protection of our critical infrastructure, coastal waters, and our air and surface transportation systems.
These must also be funding priorities if we are to protect our homeland.
Yet every dollar set aside for a border wall is a dollar lost to our ability to meet these and our other most pressing and critical homeland security needs.
I urge my House colleagues to support this resolution, and I urge the Senate to do the same so we can quickly get to work on negotiating a full-year funding bill in support of the critical work of the Department of Homeland Security.