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Fleischmann Remarks at FY23 Homeland Security Full Committee Markup

Before I get into my formal remarks, I would like to thank the distinguished chair, Ms. Roybal-Allard for her tremendous service to this body. I know her father was a valued Member of this House before she came here.

Madam Chair, you articulated the highlights and the differences of this bill. I think very well for our respected members, but personally thanks to you. There are bona fide differences, very strong differences of opinion, not only in this great committee but in our nation right now.

As we are articulate these differences and seek to work them out, and we debate them in the halls of Congress, in these rooms, I want our folks to know that this has been a very, very difficult bill. Ms. Roybal-Allard you have been exemplary. We have not had a cross word in our respective roles from the inception, and I thank you for that.

We’ve had mutual respect. We have met, and we’ve worked through difficult issues and passed bills. I just cannot say enough to you other than a sincere thank you. We have traveled together representing this committee as appropriators and Members of the Homeland Security Committee. So again, I thank you for all your hard work and your infinite kindness.

Chair DeLauro, thank you for your kindness in working on this bill as well. This is a tough one, we all know that. We know what the differences are, and they’re strong. We know there are great areas of agreement.

With that, we appreciate everyone’s work on this. There are 23 amendments today. Most are on our side of the aisle and are bona fide and well thought out. The Majority will have some as well. I would just encourage our Members to the extent that they can – we want everyone to be heard – to be as brief as possible so we can get through this rather lengthy and arduous bill, and we have Financial Services after that.

This bill provides over sixty billion dollars for the Department of Homeland Security, a four-point-six percent increase over last year.

For a good portion of the bill’s funding, we are in agreement – including FEMA, CISA, and Secret Service. The proposed investments are worthy of our collective support. 

Yet, much of the funding in the current bill does not support the fundamental priorities we need to secure our homeland.

To get this bill to the president’s desk, we must come to a reasonable agreement on thorny border, transportation security, and immigration issues.

And until that is done, Madam Chair, I just cannot support this bill in its current form.

While we have profound differences of opinion in the immigration and border space, we can all agree that the current level of illegal migration is unsustainable.

Border and immigration agents and officers are stretched thin, and this bill doesn’t prioritize tried and true methods of deterrence – specifically quickly removing those who violate the law.

We continue to see record numbers cross the border, but the bill before us includes provisions that dismantle previous bipartisan and bicameral agreement on the border wall, reduces spending on border technology, and frankly policies that will only encourage more illicit immigration.

We risk emboldening the cartels by telegraphing weakness on border security and our lack of commitment to robust enforcement of immigration laws.

Cartels will take this message, distort it further, and continue to exploit migrants to line their pockets in a vicious cycle built on human suffering. 

Securing the border will save lives by discouraging migrants from making a dangerous and deadly journey.

When it comes to maritime security, I appreciate the funding levels for our great United States Coast Guard operations. The men and women of the Coast Guard do incredible work to save lives and defend our nation along our shores and far overseas.

This committee has been dedicated to helping the service recapitalize its cutter fleet, but more work remains. 

On our recent trip, which I went with Ms. Roybal-Allard, to the Coast Guard’s 14th District. It was clear to me that we need additional ships, especially to counter the growing influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region.

I know we can work together to properly fund the Coast Guard’s recapitalization effort.

We have a number of amendments today, and I look forward to continued debate on these important issues.  

I know the chair has thanked the staff, I am going to repeat that as well because these fine men and women do an incredible job, even up today to make sure we can present this bill.

I’d also like to thank the staff– clerks Paul Anstine and Darek Newby, our Coast Guard detailee – Tom Huntley, Secret Service detailee, and I love the service, God bless you – Tony Lawrence and our outstanding professional staff Kris Mallard, Bob Joachim, Victoria Allred, Mike Herman, and Takeena Strachan.

In closing, Madam Chair, I thank you again for your tireless efforts in this committee and your great service to our People’s House. 

I yield back.

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