CHAIRWOMAN MIKULSKI FOCUSED ON FBI’S PLAN TO KEEP AMERICAN FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES SAFE AS THE AGENCY RECOVERS FROM CUTS OF SEQUESTER
Chairwoman Mikulski discussed the FBI’s work to protect the nation from terrorism, cyber attacks and traditional crime
She also discussed plans for a new, modern headquarters for the FBI
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, focused on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) plan to keep American families and communities safe as the agency recovers from the cuts of sequester at today’s subcommittee hearing on the FBI’s fiscal year 2015 budget request. In the hearing with FBI Director James Comey, the Chairwoman discussed the FBI’s work to protect the nation from terrorism, cyber attacks and traditional crime. She also discussed plans for the FBI’s new headquarters. Following are Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Welcome to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee’s first hearing on the fiscal year 2015 budget, starting with the FBI budget. I am so glad to be here with my Vice Chairman, Senator Richard Shelby. Senator Shelby and I have worked together on Appropriations for many years. Having the Full Committee leaders serving as leaders of the CJS subcommittee means that this subcommittee will lead by example. We are dedicated to working across the aisle and across the Dome to get the job done for fiscal year 2015.
“Before we begin with 2015, as the Full Committee Chairwoman, I want to thank all Members of the Committee who worked so hard to enact the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. We left no bills behind, and showed the American people we can govern.
“We received the President’s budget, and we have a budget deal for 2015 that provides the overall level of discretionary spending. We’re beginning our hearings, and will mark up our bills quickly. Our goal is to get our work done by October 1 to avoid shutdowns and showdowns, and show the American people we have changed the tone and will continue to govern. I know Senator Shelby shares this goal.
“To get our work done we need to get right to the business of this Subcommittee. Today, we will hear from FBI Director, James Comey, about the FBI’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget and priorities. We welcome Director Comey for his first time before CJS as FBI Director. I have appreciated Director Comey’s candor since he became FBI Director in September. He did not hesitate to speak out about the harms of the shutdown and sequester, particularly to FBI agents and their families. I look forward to your testimony.
“Before we begin our hearing, I want to thank all of the hardworking FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff who support them, for their dedication and determination. On our country’s worst days you leap into action, collecting and analyzing evidence, bringing terrorists and criminals to justice. You are unsung heroes keeping our country safe.
“The FBI’s work is vital and valuable. I know how important it is for the FBI to have a federal government on their side. As Chairwoman, I’ve reviewed the FBI’s $8.4 billion budget request. In fiscal year 2014, the FBI is funded at $8.4 billion, an increase of $762 million above the fiscal year 2013 sequester level to allow the FBI to recover from sequester.
“For 2015, the FBI has a flat budget request, operating with essentially the same funding, while threats to America are growing. I want to understand if the 2015 request keeps the FBI moving forward and allows the FBI to meet its mission of keeping American families and communities safe while ensuring our tax dollars are spent wisely.
“Last year, we heard about the devastating impact of sequester from Director Comey, and FBI Agents themselves. Due to sequester, the FBI was cancelling all training, and rationing gas to 200 miles a week. Now, in fiscal year 2014, the FBI is hiring 1,000 people including agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff.
“Will the fiscal year 2015 budget request sustain new hires and help the FBI recover from sequester? How will the $168 million cut included in the request impact the ability of the FBI to meet its mission?
“The FBI’s mission is expansive, and includes disrupting terrorist plots before they happen. Today, the national security mission makes up 60 percent of the FBI’s budget. I want to know if this budget request is enough to tackle all counterterrorism responsibilities. Does the FBI have the tools it needs to identify threats and to follow up on those threats?
“Our nation also faces a growing threat in cyberspace from hackers, cyber spies, and cyber terrorists. I want to be clear, cybersecurity is not surveillance. Cybersecurity means understanding and protecting us from criminals out to steal credit card information, personal identities, and companies’ trade secrets. The FBI is on the front line when companies get hacked. The request includes $392 million for the FBI’s Next Generation Cyber Initiative, which is $9 million less than fiscal year 2014. I want to know if the request is sufficient for the FBI to continue as a key guardian of our Nation’s cybersecurity.
“The President’s budget requests $2.7 billion for FBI’s traditional crime fighting efforts here in the U.S. The FBI targets sophisticated criminal organizations who prey on the vulnerable and traffic children for prostitution, schemers who scam families out of their homes and those who will do anything to make a profit. The FBI partners with State and local law enforcement on task forces to fight gangs and reduce violent crime. State and local budgets are under stress, because federal help has been reduced. Crime-fighting funding for State and local police has been cut by $1.5 billion, or 40 percent, since 2010. We want to put a stop to street gangs who terrorize our neighborhoods with drugs, guns and thefts.
“Finally, I’d like to mention the issue of FBI headquarters. The Hoover Building is sinking inch by inch. The FBI needs a new, modern headquarters to suit its modern mission. The General Services Administration—not the FBI—will build the new headquarters, but the FBI will have to live in the headquarters. My criteria for a new FBI headquarters is simple. First, it must fully consolidate staff in one campus. Second, it must meet security and functionality requirements. Third, it must be a good deal for taxpayers. We’re not talking about building a gold plated headquarters. This will be a working building, fulfilling the task of the FBI for decades to come. Director Comey knows I think Maryland’s Prince George’s County is the right fit for the FBI, as I said in a press conference on Monday.
“Every day, we expect the FBI to keep America safe from terrorists and criminals. The FBI expects the Congress to provide the FBI with resources it needs, on time and under regular order, without shutdowns or showdowns. That is what I intend to do as Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Once again, I thank the people of the FBI and Director Comey for his leadership.”