• Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on DHS Conference Agreement to Fund the Government

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    February 15, 2019
    Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on DHS Conference Agreement to Fund the Government

    Washington, DC Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), the chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee on Homeland Security, delivered the following speech in the House this evening prior to a vote on the conference committee’s agreement to fund the government:
    “Let me begin by thanking the ranking member of the subcommittee, Chuck Fleischmann, for the courteous way in which he represented and fought for the Minority’s priorities.
    “The negotiations on the DHS funding bill were among the hardest I have experienced to date.
    “Although we did not win every battle, we won many.
    “We prevented new funding for immigration enforcement field personnel.
    “We secured funding to increase detention facility inspections from once every three years, to twice a year.
    “We won funding to increase detention facility compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act; to provide more Victim Assistance specialists; and to expand the Alternatives to Detention program, including $30.5 million for family case management.
    “We held firm on a provision to prevent ICE from using information from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to detain and remove sponsors of unaccompanied children.
    “And we improved transparency by requiring ICE to make information public about the numbers and categories of people in its custody.
    “While I am not happy with the outcome on border fencing, we did limit funding for border fencing to only $1.375 billion, no higher than last year.
    “We also won protections for several ecologically sensitive areas in Texas.
    “And we secured hundreds of millions of dollars for humanitarian efforts to ensure migrants who spend time in CBP custody are appropriately cared for.
    “Our bill also has large investments in equipment to detect drugs and other contraband at our Ports of Entry—where the real threat lies.
    “The bill funds 600 new customs officers to help facilitate commerce and reduce wait times at the ports.
    “The bill also includes funds for the Coast Guard’s first heavy icebreaker in 40 years, and provides robust support for FEMA preparedness and disaster response grants.
    “Compared to the current detention bed level, we significantly reduced the funding available for ICE detention beds for the rest of this fiscal year.  Unfortunately, we were unable to reach agreement on how to prevent OMB from giving ICE a blank check for detention beds during continuing resolutions, and we were unable to effectively prevent DHS abuse of its transfer authority to increase detention beds.  That transfer authority is intended to address the unforeseen changes in circumstances.  It is not to be used as a tool for routinely defying congressional intent on spending.
    “As chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I will demand the department honor the intent of Congress and fully justify any use of its transfer authority.  I will hold public hearings to ensure the American people know when that authority is being abused, and if not corrected, redouble my efforts to ensure that authority is taken away.
    “While not a perfect bill, the only alternative to this negotiated bill is a year-long CR which would not only include DHS, but all the civilian departments and agencies for which the bill before us has significant new funding initiatives important to Democrats and Republicans alike.  he fact is federal agencies need full-year funding bills if we expect them to carry out their missions effectively, especially after the trauma of the longest partial government shutdown.
    “It is time to put FY19 behind us so we can start in earnest on FY20 and the oversight opportunities it provides.
    “I urge my colleagues to vote for the bill.”

    Ben Soskin , Communications Director
    (202) 225-1766