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June 01, 2011

Thompson Statement on Homeland Security Appropriations Legislation

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, delivered the following remarks on the House floor in opposition to the rule for H.R. 2017 – the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2012:

His prepared remarks: I rise in opposition to the Rule for H.R. 2017, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2012. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. As Americans began to process the carnage inflicted by Osama bin Laden on our soil, then-President Bush challenged us, as a nation, to confront every threat from any source that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America. For nearly ten years, we have done just that. We have made major investments in intelligence, border security, transportation security, and emergency preparedness.

H.R. 2017 suddenly veers away from these incremental efforts and, as a result, sets our Nation on a dangerously-wrong path. To cut homeland security preparedness grants by 2.1 billion dollars at a time what DHS is calling a period of heighten alert because of our successful actions against bin Laden, is deplorable and reckless.

Last month, in the Homeland Security Committee, Lee Hamilton, who served with distinction in this body and as co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, testified that Because Al Qaida and its affiliates will not give up, we cannot let our guard down. We will see new attempts and likely successful attacks. . . . We've done a lot. We've done much. We've had a great deal of progress. But there's an awful lot more to do. How we can continue these efforts with an appropriation bill that funds DHS at seven percent below what the President tells us that DHS needs is beyond me.

The probability of a terrorist attack on a major domestic transit system has not subsided nor has Mother Nature relented and softened the barrage of punishing blows to our communities, including much of my own congressional district. This bill sacrifices the security our communities just to save a penny here or there. Slashing research and development funding of promising homeland security technologies; Cutting cyber security funding at a time when attacks against the cyber assets of the Federal government have sharply risen; and Eliminating grant funding to scores of at-risk communities across the Nation that rely on Federal support to meet their post-9/11 security needs. Our first responders must not be treated as pawns to the political ideology of the day.

It is the decimation of first responder grant programs, at the hands of the Republican Leadership, that, by far, is the most offensive aspect of this bill. The second most offensive aspect of this bill is the shenanigans surrounding the funding of disaster emergencies. In an unprecedented move, this Republican Leadership is demanding that any emergency disaster funding be offset by conforming recessions or cuts. This new position will create uncertainty within the emergency management system and cause displaced folks who just survived hurricanes and floods to, for the first time, question whether FEMA will actually help them rebuild their lives and communities. For these reasons,

I oppose H.R. 2017 and ask my colleagues to join me in voting against the Rule and the underlying bill.

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978