The U.S. House approved the fiscal year 2015 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on a bipartisan vote of 253-170. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), and other related agencies.
The bill totals $34 billion – a $50 million reduction from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and an increase of $327 million above the President’s request.
“This is a balanced, thorough bill that makes important investments in our nation’s nuclear defense capabilities, as well as the water infrastructure and energy resources that keep our economy moving. And, it does so in a fiscally sound manner – finding ways to save taxpayer dollars wherever possible,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said.
Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson also commented on the importance of the bill:
"This bill reflects the tough decisions necessitated by our challenging fiscal environment, while placing emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure," Chairman Simpson said. "It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth."
For House adopted amendments to the bill, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/07.10.14_FY_2015_Energy_and_Water_Bill_-_Floor_Adopted_Amendments.pdf
For the text of the bill, please visit: https://beta.congress.gov/113/bills/hr4923/BILLS-113hr4923rh.pdf
For the bill report, please visit: https://beta.congress.gov/113/crpt/hrpt486/CRPT-113hrpt486.pdf
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4923, the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.
This is a balanced bill that makes important investments in our nation’s nuclear defense capabilities, as well as the water infrastructure and energy resources that keep our economy moving. And it does so in a fiscally sound manner, finding ways to save taxpayer dollars wherever possible.
First and foremost, this legislation prioritizes national security by increasing funding for nuclear weapons programs above last year’s level to support the safety and readiness of our nuclear stockpiles.
Maintaining this nation’s nuclear deterrence posture remains critical to our safety, particularly during a time of growing global instability and increasing risks of future nuclear threats.
Next, this bill includes investments in our water infrastructure that will also help grow our economy, facilitate trade and commerce, and ensure the well-being of our nation. Recognizing the importance of what the Army Corps of Engineers does, we have rejected the Administration’s proposed cuts to these programs – providing nearly $1 billion more than requested, and $25 million above last year’s levels.
This funding will allow the Army Corps to continue its important work performing flood mitigation, updating dam safety, and improving our waterways to facilitate increased import and export ability.
Within the Department of Energy, we prioritize funding for programs that encourage economic competitiveness and energy independence, and that help promote an “all of the above” solution to the nation’s energy needs.
By making sound investments in coal, natural gas, and other fossil energy sources, we are moving our nation closer to a balanced energy portfolio – as well as keeping down energy costs for hard-working Americans across the country.
To make these important investments, the bill targets lower-priority programs for cuts. For example, renewable energy programs with the Department of Energy are cut by $113 million from last year’s levels.
By implementing these types of savings and including stringent oversight requirements for the DOE, the Army Corps, and other federal agencies, we have produced a bill that will support economic growth and security, while encouraging the government to act with greater efficiency.
The legislation also puts the brakes on the Obama Administration’s destructive and misguided regulatory agenda that threatens our nation’s small businesses and other industries.
For example, within this bill, we have included a provision prohibiting the unnecessary expansion of federal jurisdiction over our nation’s waterways.
At one of the subcommittee’s many hearings regarding the federal budget just a few weeks ago, the Assistant Secretary for the Corps could not provide clear answers as to how much these regulations would cost the American taxpayer, how many man-hours it would take to implement, and how such a change would affect our struggling economy.
Since the Corps plainly has no idea what it is doing with this rule, it would be irresponsible, if not disastrous, to allow such a change to move forward.
The bill also stops the Administration from changing the definition of “fill material” – an action that could drastically alter federal regulations and could effectively shut down coal and other mining operations throughout the country.
While this proposal is very troubling on many levels, I am most concerned about the unknown costs of this large-scale, invasive change. This is the type of over-zealous, unneeded regulation that will harm – not help – our economy in this sensitive time.
Mr. Speaker, before I close, I would like to thank Chairman Simpson, Ranking Member Kaptur, the Subcommittee and the staff for their ahard work on this bill, and commend Chairman Simpson for a job well done on his first bill as Chairman of the Energy and Water Subcommittee.
This is a good bill that reflects smart budget decisions to invest tax dollars in effective, necessary programs that will help keep our nation safe and our economy growing. I urge my colleagues to vote “yes” on this bill.Thank you, and I yield back.
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Chairman Mike Simpson made the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.R. 4923, the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill:
It’s my distinct honor to present the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water bill for consideration before the full House.
I’d like to recognize the efforts of Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey to bring this bill to the floor. Their efforts to bring the appropriations process back to regular order ensure that our federal discretionary spending receives the full scrutiny of this body, and our committee process.
I’d also like to thank Ranking Member Kaptur for all of her work. Her contributions and advice have made this legislation stronger.
The bill before you totals $34.01 billion for the activities of the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and other agencies under our jurisdiction. This is a $50 million reduction from last year’s funding levels.
The bill prioritizes investments in this nation’s infrastructure and national defense. As we do each year, we worked hard to incorporate priorities and perspectives from both sides of the aisle.
For instance, this bill overcomes the budget request’s proposed cut of nearly $1 billion to the critical programs of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The request would have led to economic disruptions as our ports and waterways filled in and would have left our communities and businesses vulnerable to flooding. Instead, this bill recognizes the critical work of the Corps and provides $5.492 billion for those activities, $959 million above the request and $25 million above last year.
The bill takes a strong stand against government overreach by prohibiting changes to the definitions of “waters of the United States” and “fill material”.
The bill also provides $11.361 billion for the atomic security, nonproliferation, and naval reactors programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a $154 million increase from fiscal year 2014.
The bill is clear about our concern with Russia’s recent activities in eastern Europe. It eliminates all new funding for nonproliferation funding in Russia and requires that before the Secretary of Energy funds any activity in Russia, he must certify that the activity is in our national security interests.
Mr. Chairman, Russia’s activities in Ukraine have shown once again how important our nuclear security umbrella is to our allies. We’ve also seen how Russia has used Ukraine’s reliance on natural gas to put pressure on its new leadership. And the movements by insurgents to occupy Iraq threaten to drive oil prices through the roof.
Our country has abundant natural energy resources, and it is our national security and economic interest to ensure they are fully and responsibly used. That’s why this bill makes strong, balanced investments in our energy sector to ensure that our constituents continue to have reliable, affordable energy.
Fossil energy, which provided more than 71 percent of our electricity production in 2013, receives $593 million, a $31 million increase above fiscal year 2014. Nuclear energy is increased by $10 million above last year. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are slightly reduced by $113 million from last year. This balanced investment prioritizes improvements to energy sources that we rely upon today, while making longer-term investments in alternative energy sources.
Thank you for your time and attention.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers today issued the following statement on the request by President Obama for additional emergency funding to address the humanitarian and border enforcement crisis on the Southwestern border and to provide additional funding for wildland fire disasters.
“My Committee will soon receive a request from the White House for an additional $4.3 billion in emergency funding to address the ongoing humanitarian and border enforcement crisis on our nation’s southern border, and to fight wildland fires that cause millions of dollars in damage every year.
“In the next few days and weeks, my Committee will take a close and a thorough look at this funding request, and as per the normal Congressional process, will make our own determination on how to appropriately and wisely use taxpayer resources.
“Plainly, the situation for many of these unaccompanied children is extremely dire, and the United States has both a security and a moral obligation to help solve the crisis at hand.
“It is clear that additional funding will be needed to ensure the proper care of these unaccompanied children, to enforce the law, and to further secure our border so that these problems can be mitigated in the short term. Our Committee will focus on providing what is necessary to meet these ongoing needs.
“It is also apparent that additional funding to prevent and fight wildland fires – especially in the West where the damage has been so great – is necessary. Our Committee will review this proposal, and will respond appropriately to ensure that proper assistance is available to help the people and communities affected by these devastating fires.”
The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies.
In total, the bill includes $30.2 billion in base funding, an increase of $162 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and a reduction of $409 million below the President’s request. This includes a one-time payment of $442 million for “Payments in Lieu of Taxes” (PILT) – which provides funds to local communities with large areas of federal land to help offset losses in property taxes – and $4.1 billion to prevent and combat devastating wildland fires. In addition, the legislation also includes policy provisions to stop unnecessary, job-killing regulations by federal agencies such as the EPA.
“This bill will ensure the proper management of the nation’s vast natural resources, invest in programs for the well-being of our local communities, and help prevent and fight the wildland fires that cause millions of dollars in damages every year, all while keeping a close eye on the spending of each and every tax dollar,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. “In addition, this legislation contains important provisions to rein in the harmful regulatory overreach of federal bureaucracies that will unnecessarily cause job loss and that will weaken our recovering economy.”
Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert also commented on the bill.
“The Interior and Environment bill provides the agencies within its jurisdiction with the resources necessary to carry out their mission in times that are fiscally challenging,” said Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert. “This bill also protects Americans from the onslaught of job-killing regulations coming from the EPA, and makes difficult decisions to carefully balance national priorities. I am pleased that our Subcommittee continues to place an emphasis on producing energy on federal lands, providing robust funding for our wildland fire accounts, and addressing a variety of health, education, and safety needs within Indian Country.”
Wildland Firefighting and Prevention – In total, the bill funds wildland firefighting and prevention programs at $4.1 billion, $149 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The bill fully funds the 10-year average for wildland fire suppression costs for both the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service, includes an additional $470 million for the Forest Service to help fill the expected shortfall in fire suppression funding this year, and provides an increase of $90 million above the current level for hazardous fuels management. In addition, the bill includes funding for two next-generation aircraft to replace decades-old planes used for large-scale fire suppression.
Federal Payments to Local Communities – The bill provides $442 million for the “Payments In Lieu of Taxes” (PILT) program through a one-year extension of this mandatory program. PILT provides funds for local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their areas. The authorization for PILT is set to expire on September 30, 2014, and without congressional action, many rural communities could face huge budget shortfalls impacting public safety, education, and other local government responsibilities.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The bill funds the EPA at $7.5 billion, a reduction of $717 million – or 9 percent – below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Administrative funding for the agency is cut by $24 million, including a 50 percent reduction to the Office of the Administrator, the Office of Congressional Affairs, and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. In addition, staffing levels at the EPA are held to 15,000, the lowest level since 1989. These reductions will help the agency streamline operations, and focus its activities on core duties, rather than unnecessary regulatory expansion.
The legislation also includes provisions to stop various harmful, costly, and potentially job-killing regulations by the EPA. For example, the bill prohibits the EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas regulations for new and existing power plants, changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act, and changes to the definition of “fill material.” The bill also includes policy provisions to protect the privacy of dairy and livestock farmers’ personal information, and to prevent the EPA from regulating the lead content of ammunition and fishing tackle.
Indian Health Service – Funding in the bill is prioritized to meet the nation’s obligations to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The bill includes $4.6 billion for the Indian Health Service, an increase of $208 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This funding will help provide increased access to and improved healthcare for Native Americans, and includes targeted funding for problematic health care issues, including those related to domestic violence, dental health, alcohol and substance abuse, cardiovascular health, diabetes, and infant mortality.
Office of Surface Mining (OSM) – The OSM is funded at $149 million in the bill – essentially equal to the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The bill will fund grants to states at $68 million, and directs OSM to discontinue joint federal and state efforts to increase fees on private businesses. The bill also rejects a White House proposal to impose new fees on the mining industry. The legislation also includes a provision to stop potentially economically damaging changes to the “stream buffer rule.”
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – The bill contains $1.1 billion for the BLM, a decrease of $13 million from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Within this funding, the bill increases oil and gas programs by $20 million from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level to speed permitting and to increase inspections. The bill also rejects a proposal by the President to increase oil and gas fees by $48 million – which could hinder the exploration and use of domestic energy resources – and denies a proposal to increase federal land grazing fees by $6.5 million.
National Park Service (NPS) – The legislation contains $2.6 billion for the NPS, an increase of $3 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This funding will ensure that every National Park will remain open and fully operational next year.
U.S. Forest Service – The bill includes $5.6 billion for the Forest Service, which is $85.7 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Much of this funding is related to wildland fire prevention and suppression (as described above). The bill also includes a provision prohibiting the Forest Service or BLM from issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety or extreme weather, and does not include any of the Administration’s proposed increases in livestock grazing fees.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – The FWS is funded at $1.4 billion in the bill, a cut of $4 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Within this amount, the legislation prioritizes funding for programs such as those to fight invasive species, to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking, and to prevent the closure of fish hatcheries. The bill includes a one-year delay on any further Endangered Species Act rulemaking for the “greater sage-grouse” and “Gunnison sage-grouse,” and prohibits the FWS from administratively establishing new or expanding existing wildlife refuges.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1 billion for the USGS, a $4 million increase above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Within this amount, the bill prioritizes funding for programs dealing with natural hazards, stream gages, the groundwater monitoring network, mapping activities, and the earthquake early warning system.
Smithsonian Institution – The Smithsonian Institution is funded at $813 million in the bill – an increase of $8 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This includes funding to complete construction of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities – The bill includes $138 million for each of the endowments, a reduction of $16 million compared to the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.
Program Eliminations – The bill does not include funding for several programs, such as: the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border grant program, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
For the subcommittee draft text of the legislation, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/BILLS-113HR-SC-AP-FY2015-Interior-SubcommitteeDraft.pdf
The House Appropriations Committee today approved the fiscal year 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill on a vote of 28-21. The bill provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies.
The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request for these programs. The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system, and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.
“This bill reflects common-sense decisions to place priority on programs and services that are effective, efficient, and essential to the financial health of our nation and the federal government’s service to our people,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. “In order to make these investments and to be good stewards of each and every tax dollar, the bill focuses cuts on lower-priority or poor-performing agencies – such as the scandal-plagued and inefficient Internal Revenue Service.”
“The subcommittee jurisdiction covers a diverse group of agencies and activities, including financial regulators, tax collection, the White House, federal courts, the District of Columbia, the General Services Administration, and the Small Business Administration,” Subcommittee Chairman Ander Crenshaw said. “With an allocation of $566 million less than fiscal year 2014, we have provided critical funding to support small businesses and law enforcement while reducing funding for activities that are not essential to the operations of the federal government or that have a history of wasting taxpayer resources. The bill also takes important steps to make the Administration, the Internal Revenue Service in particular, more transparent and accountable to the taxpayer,” he continued.
The following amendments to the bill were adopted by the full committee today:
Rep. Crenshaw – The manager’s amendment makes technical and non-controversial changes to the bill and report, and includes a funding prohibition on destroying IRS records in contravention of the Federal Records Act. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.Rep. Serrano/Rep. Latham – The amendment adds a provision to the bill requiring the postal service to deliver mail six days a week. The amendments adopted on a voice vote.
Rep. Yoder – The amendment prohibits funding in the bill to require the disclosure of private email information by internet service providers without a criminal warrant. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.Rep. Harris – The amendment prohibits the District of Columbia from using local funds for the decriminalization of marijuana. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 28-21.
Rep. Yoder – The amendment would add language to the bill to alter the Dodd Frank law in order to protect safe swap activities under banks and their regulators, while allowing them to “push-out” riskier swap activities. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
Rep. Harris – The amendment prohibits funding for abortions through OPM-negotiated “multi-state qualified health plans” offered under Obamacare. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 29-21.
For the text of the bill, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-sc-ap-fy2015-fservices-subcommitteedraft.pdf
For the bill report, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2015-fservices.pdf
The House Appropriations Committee today approved the fiscal year 2015 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill on a voice vote.
The bill totals $48.3 billion in both regular discretionary and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. This total is $708 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $277 million below the President’s request for these programs. Within this amount, OCO is funded at $5.9 billion and will support operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as stabilization and humanitarian efforts in areas of conflict around the globe.
“We live in a time of global uncertainty and instability, and it is vital to our national security and well-being that the United States maintains a leadership role in the world. We must prioritize our funding and have done so by maintaining critical diplomatic efforts, supporting continued humanitarian aid, and protecting the safety and security of Americans abroad, while cutting lower-priority programs or those that we simply cannot afford at this time,” Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger said:
“This bill focuses on programs that keep the United States and our allies secure while anticipating continued change around the world with a special focus on the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. This is a national security bill that prioritizes funding for embassy security, democracy assistance, our strategic partners such as Israel, and life-saving health and refugee programs,” Chairwoman Granger said. “In addition, the bill focuses on combating human trafficking especially in high-risk areas such as Central America, and combats wildlife poaching which has been a priority for this subcommittee since I took over as Chair. Further, the bill spends less than last year by terminating or scaling back some programs in order to fund the highest priorities that are in our national security interest.”
The following amendments to the bill were adopted by the full committee today:
Rep. Granger – The manager’s amendment makes technical and non-controversial changes to the bill and report, including language related to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and Iraq. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
Rep. Lowey – The amendment adds language to the bill related to health care coverage for Peace Corps volunteers. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.Rep. Wolf – The amendment adds language to the bill renaming a street in the District of Columbia after Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
Rep. Kaptur – The amendment adds report language encouraging USAID to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, with emphasis on agricultural assistance to rural women. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
For the text of the bill, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-sc-ap-fy2015-stateforop-subcommitteedraft.pdf
For the bill report, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2015-stateforop.pdf
In total, the bill provides $491 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $4.1 billion above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $200 million above the President’s request. In addition, the bill includes $79.4 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for the ongoing war efforts abroad, the same level assumed in the President’s budget request and in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act.
“The bipartisan legislation passed today provides funding for our highest national duty – the security of our country, the sustainment of our military operations, and the well-being of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces. The bill helps to meet the most pressing needs to address current and arising threats to the safety of our nation, while finding ways to trim excess and reduce lower-priority programs without negatively affecting our troops or the success of our military missions,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen also praised House passage of the bill.
“Beyond sustaining our men and women in uniform and their families, our goal throughout this bill is to support our warfighters now and in the future, wherever and whenever the next crisis arises,” Chairman Frelinghuysen said. “At the same time, we clearly recognize the nation's debt crisis and found areas and programs where reductions were possible without adversely impacting our Armed Forces. It is important that we make every dollar count without harming readiness or increasing the risks incurred by our troops.”
For House adopted amendments to the bill, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/06.20.14_FY_2015_Defense_Bill_-_Floor_Adopted_Amendments.pdf
For text of the bill, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-sc-ap-fy2015-defense-subcommitteedraft.pdf
For the bill report, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2015-defense.pdf
Several senior members of Congressional Committees with jurisdiction over border and immigration issues today sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama, demanding immediate action from federal agencies on the immigration crisis at the Southwest border. The letter directs specific actions for the Administration to take – using currently available authorities and resources – to help address the massive influx of “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UAC) into the United States from Central America.
The text of the letter follows:
June 19, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you know, the number of unaccompanied children and families crossing the Southwest border illegally is skyrocketing. We understand that many of these children are confronted with conflict, discord, and economic strife in their countries. While a partial explanation for this migration surge, we are equally concerned that your Administration’s immigration policies are creating a dangerous incentive for illicit networks to smuggle thousands of children into the United States.
The number of undocumented children apprehended by United States Customs and Border Protection in May 2014 increased by 267 percent over the number apprehended in May 2013. During the same period, the number of undocumented adults increased 72 percent. At a rate of $5,000 per child, these criminal smuggling groups earned at least $53,230,000 in May alone. These statistics are startling in their magnitude and illustrate the consequences of improper enforcement of our border and immigration laws. Moreover, the situation could have frightening consequences both from a humanitarian and a national security perspective.
Agents working along the Texas border find themselves regularly coming face to face with frightened mothers and children who have endured a grueling trip through Mexico, escorted by smugglers often tied or beholden to drug cartels. Many of these immigrants report being robbed or suffering sexual abuse. Even more worrisome are trend lines that indicate the number of illegal crossings is not decreasing as summer approaches – unlike in previous years. If circumstances do not change, we are concerned many of these children and adults face extremely poor, even life-threatening, physical conditions. These dire circumstances only increase the potential for many of these vulnerable children to be exploited or become victims of human trafficking.
To end this dangerous migration, it is essential that the U.S. enforce our immigration laws and create effective and necessary deterrents so that potential illegal immigrants understand that their dream of reaching and being allowed to remain in the U.S. is unrealistic, and it is a virtual certainty they will be repatriated to their home countries. Furthermore, they must understand the risks they are taking to enter the U.S. illegally are far outweighed by the costs – including the cost of human lives and the consequences of violating U.S. immigration laws. Therefore, Mr. President, we urge you to take the following actions immediately:
1) Detain families who are recent border crossers in appropriate shelters near the Southwest border where practical and consistent with current law.
2) Utilize existing expedited immigration proceedings to determine whether these families have arrived in the country illegally.
3) Remove and deport those families who are ineligible to remain in the United States (not eligible for an immigration benefit), including those who make false claims of credible fear.
4) Place family members who are ineligible for immigration relief in expedited removal proceedings where appropriate.
5) Deliver “notices to appear” via post or issue 210 letters (which order recidivists to leave the United States within 30 days) to family members living in the United States illegally and with whom an undocumented child has been reunited.
6) Broadcast public service announcements on U.S.-based, Spanish-speaking television reporting on the deprivations and dangers of crossing from Central America through Mexico to the United States.
All these actions comply with the laws of the land, and resources and funding are available to enact them immediately. Further, the fiscal year 2015 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill introduced in the House includes the funding necessary to continue to enforce the laws, providing substantially higher funding levels to compensate for these increased needs – needs that were not addressed in your budget request. In addition, the fiscal year 2015 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill restores reductions proposed in the budget request to improve economic and security conditions, fight gangs and drug cartels, combat human trafficking, and enhance border security in Mexico and Central America.
To determine whether the Southwest border is becoming increasingly vulnerable, the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee requested a briefing from the U.S. Border Patrol on June 17, 2014. Despite this request, the Department of Homeland Security has informed the Committee that such a briefing will be delayed indefinitely. As elected representatives of the American people, we demand that all Committees of jurisdiction be briefed immediately. We will not tolerate the withholding of such important and relevant information from Congress, particularly as the House considers appropriations bills that address border security and other funding needs related to this crisis.
Addressing how to repatriate unaccompanied children with responsible government officials in Central America will require substantial cooperation and participation from the countries of origin. Consequently, we, the undersigned Representatives, request that the State Department increase its efforts to work with Central American countries and Mexico to address this influx of unaccompanied children. We expect Department of State officials to accompany the Department of Homeland Security to brief Members on this aspect of the problem.
U.S. immigration laws are clear and must be administered appropriately to assure basic fairness to all legal immigrants, to maintain the integrity of the border and our national security, and to deter narco-traffickers, smugglers, and other illicit activities.
Mr. President, there is a crisis on the border. We must work together to solve it and urge you to implement the recommendations above.
S/ House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers
S/ House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Carter
S/ House Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf
S/ House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole
S/ House Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston
S/ House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul
cc: The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
The Honorable Sylvia Burwell
Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
"As we begin consideration of this important legislation, I want to pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces – all volunteers. They deserve our heartfelt thanks for their dedicated service and the sacrifices of their families. And everything we do over the next few days should be dedicated to them.
"My Colleagues, the fiscal year 2015 Department of Defense appropriations bill was reported out unanimously by the full Appropriations Committee on June 10.
"This recommendation is the product of countless staff hours, 10 official briefings, and 13 hearings.
"Most of our hearings related to assuring success and reducing risk for our warfighters and their mission.
"It is worth noting that one of these hearings was exclusively dedicated to taking testimony from members of the House on their views, opinions and priorities for this year’s defense appropriations bill.
"I want to thank those members who took the time to inform and educate the committee, as well as other members who made specific requests.
"At the outset, I would also like to thank Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey for their support of the committee’s work. As they know, this bill is the product of a bipartisan and cooperative effort, for which I thank my good friend, the Ranking Member, Pete Visclosky. He has been a valuable partner throughout this whole process. And thanks to all members and our incredible staff!
"The base funding recommendation is $491 billion, which is $202 million above the President’s request and $4.1 billion above last year’s enacted level.
"As many members are aware, the Committee has not yet received the President’s recommendation for Overseas Contingency Operations – the OCO budget - so we are forced to include a $79.4 billion “placeholder” in this legislation.
"Our Committee operates in a completely transparent and accountable manner, so clearly, this is not the way we wanted to proceed to the floor – with no details, with no context, with no facts for those accounts.
"We have pressed Administration officials at every opportunity (I spoke to Secretary Hagel as recently as last Thursday) to get us an OCO plan.
"The Administration has told us for months that it is finalizing its plans for the “enduring U.S. military presence in Afghanistan” which will have a serious impact on the size of that funding request.
"Well, three weeks ago, the President announced his plans for U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan beyond this year. The Army and Marines already have closed down bases and removed tons of equipment. Still we have NO request and are forced to “debate” a placeholder of nearly $80 billion!
"While the Afghan Presidential elections are still unsettled, the leading candidates support the Bilateral Security Agreement.
"So what’s the hold up? Let’s get on with it!
"(And I have to say that many people find it just a bit bizarre that the Administration has proclaimed its opposition to this bill when they have failed to do their job and lay out their game plan for overseas operations.)
"But whatever the recommendation we ultimately receive, we will closely examine their request because we will still have troops on the ground and, no matter the number, they need to be protected.
"Of course, we will also consider: the deepening (civil) war in Iraq; the continuing disintegration of Syria; the aggressiveness of Russia in eastern Europe and China in the Pacific; the growing influence of Iran; and increased terrorist attacks across the globe, especially in Africa.
"So, while the Administration feels the pending OCO request will have a great deal to do with our “enduring U.S. military presence in Afghanistan,” in reality their request will have a great deal to do with our enduring role in the fight to protect Americans and our homeland from a growing list of global threats.
"Even though we’ve returned to “regular order” this year, the Committee faced many challenges in crafting this year’s Defense bill, but we held firm to two guiding principles: Ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to defend our nation and support their families; and ensuring the Department of Defense and Intelligence community have the resources they need to carry out their mission in the most efficient and effective manner.
"Our goal throughout this bill is to support our warfighters now and in the future, whenever the next crisis arises.
"At the same time, our committee clearly recognizes the nation's debt crisis and we found areas and programs where reductions were possible without adversely impacting our Armed Forces.
"Frankly, it is important that we make every dollar count without harming readiness or increasing the risks incurred by our warfighters
"The bill before you attempts to meet those responsibilities, within current fiscal constraints, while leaving no question for our allies and adversaries about our will and our ability to defend ourselves and our interests around the world.
"America must continue to lead and this bipartisan bill enables that leadership.
"Let me highlight just a few items included in this FY ’15 Defense Appropriations request:
"These are but a few examples of our commitment to U.S. military dominance across the air, land and sea; our commitment to our allies and partners; and our commitment to our service-members (all volunteers) and their families;
"Mr. Chairman, I understand that Americans are weary after 13 years of war.
"Despite the proclamations of some that al-Qaeda and its followers have been decimated, the American people must understand the reality that terrorism is actually spreading worldwide.
"Yes, our enemies have sustained serious damage, inflicted by the most skillful and powerful military-intelligence organization on the globe. But in many cases, these enemies have adapted, and grown to become even more dangerous."We are witnessing an alarming collapse in Iraq. The central government now controls less than half of its own sovereign territory as it reels before a full-blown insurgency. The concept of an autonomous Jihadi state or Caliphate determined to attack the West is an unacceptable development that demands a response.
"We “pivot” elsewhere at our own peril!
"National defense is the priority job of the federal government. Our Constitution grants Congress the full range of authorities for establishing the defense of the nation.
"Our task in this House is to ensure that our military is ready to respond when the Commander-in-Chief calls. This legislation moves us toward a state of current and future military readiness that will protect America and I urge its passage.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I reserve the balance of my time."Read More
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