Ranking Member DeLauro Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Homeland Security Funding Bill
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4367, the fiscal year 2024 Homeland Security bill:
The Homeland Security Appropriations bill before us weakens our national security, defunds border security, harms the Homeland Security workforce, and leaves Americans vulnerable to escalating disasters.
That we are debating this bill on September 27, three days before the end of the fiscal year, when House Republicans have provided no path forward to keep our government open is irresponible. The House majority has exhibited their own inability and unwillingness to govern by ensuring this bill cannot become law without other partisan legislation moving first. Rather than voting to keep our government open – and ensuring border protection officers and immigration officials get paid – Republicans are pursuing a path explicitly designed to shut down the federal government. A shutdown will have consequences for every American family – and on the border and border communities.
Mr. Speaker, Democrats do not support an open border. But let me be unequivocal. There is a crisis on our southern border. Our border communities are struggling with the influx of immigration. The status quo cannot be maintained. That much, we agree on.
Where the majority and minority differ is how we address this issue. We must continue to invest in our processing facilities and in transportation and medical care. We need to have an effective process of determining who is eligible to enter the country and who is not. And we must continue to invest in newer technology and in our immigration and border security officials, and invest in immigration judges.
But we also must think bigger, and broader, and bolder. We cannot hope to resolve this issue if we only begin addressing it right at the border. We must invest in our partnerships with Latin American countries, and fund the expansion of Safe Mobility Offices. Our Republican colleagues refuse to negotiate with Democrats on these issues. We were kept on the sidelines, and thus this bill does not make the sound investments that would actually reduce the burden on our border facilities and our communities.
This bill misses important opportunities to address the dire opioid crisis that we face as a nation, and it provides insufficient funding for ports of entry where the vast majority of these drugs enter our country.
We should be focusing resources where we agree they are needed most, like combatting fentanyl crossing the border, helping our border communities, advancing our cybersecurity posture, and protecting Americans from violent extremism and foreign adversaries.
I am also deeply concerned about the conditions that greet migrants and asylum seekers – people who leave their homes out of desperation and necessity. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of these migrants, especially children, and to provide resources so that those entitled to stay under our immigration laws can do so. Please understand – by law – the United States is required to take in unaccompanied children, screen them, house them, and provide safe placement.
This bill leaves Americans vulnerable to the growing number and increasing severity of natural disasters, exposes Americans to foreign threats with inadequate cyber and infrastructure security investments, and does not fully fund the Transportation Security Administration personnel. House Republicans claim to care about oversight, but this bill proposes several cuts to programs throughout the Department of Homeland Security which are critical to the oversight of our immigration facilities. This bill also eliminates discretionary funding for refugee processing – shifting the burden of those costs to an already backlogged and overwhelmed system.
We all know the enactment of appropriations will require bipartisan agreement on sound investments, not reckless cuts and partisan policy riders. Let us focus on opening the government. There is a bipartisan bill in the Senate. I yield back.