Mikulski Floor Statement on FY17 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill
***Audio of statement for download– here (broadcast quality)
***Video of statement for download– here (broadcast quality)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS), spoke on the Senate floor about the fiscal year 2017 CJS Appropriations bill.
The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as delivered:
“Mr. President, I rise in support of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill. As my colleague, the Chair of the Subcommittee, the gentleman from Alabama, Senator Shelby said, the CJS bill does provide a total of $53.6 billion for the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice (DOJ), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other agencies funded by the bill. It meets the Bipartisan Budget Agreement and was reported 30 to 0 by the full Appropriations Committee. I support the underlying bill and look forward to moving it through the Senate.
“What a difference a few days makes. When I left the Senate on Thursday to return to Maryland to be with my constituents, I was so excited about joining Senator Shelby to bring the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill to the floor. I was excited about it for several reasons. Not only the legislation, but what the legislation actually meant.
“First of all, it meant we were actually going to bring a bill that was bipartisan to the floor. It also meant that I was going to be joined with my colleague of so many years, Senator Shelby of Alabama, on the floor where we have worked together to try to come up with how to meet the needs of the United States of America, to protect our citizens, to really make sure that we’re the country of innovation and discovery, and that we do it in a way that’s fiscally responsible. In order to have bipartisanship, you have to start with friendship. Senator Shelby and I have developed that over the years based on mutual respect, candor, civility and consultation. And I was looking forward to bringing the bill based on content.
“This will be the last Subcommittee bill that I bring to the Senate as the Vice Chairwoman or Chairwoman of the subcommittee. With my retirement at the end of this session, I’ll be leaving. I have led this Subcommittee for a number of years, and have worked with such wonderful colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
“So there was a lot of excitement in bringing the bill to the floor. Two people working together to bring something before our colleagues in the spirit of meeting America’s needs, being fiscally responsible and showing that with mutual respect, we can get a job done.
“But that excitement ended. It ended Sunday morning when I woke up, and to my horror and shock, I saw what happened in Orlando. Orlando was bleeding. The LGBT community was bleeding. The Latino community was bleeding. America was bleeding. It was a terrible act of terrorism and hate, the killing of 49 innocent people – with a death toll possibly on the rise – at a nightclub in Orlando. This was just terrible. I knew it wasn’t the first time a terrorist with hate in his heart and a gun in his hand had mowed down his fellow citizens with a high-powered weapon.
“It seemed so hard to believe. Yet I noted that this Friday it will be one year since the massacre at Charleston. Innocent Americans going about their lives, murdered in churches, schools, movie theaters, at work. In places cities and towns with names like Newtown, Aurora and San Bernardino. America wants to know what we’re doing to keep America safe.
“I want to say to America, first of all, in the underlying bill we really worked hard to make America safe. The Senate CJS bill includes $3.7 billion to protect Americans from terrorism and respond to growing threats and incidents. Senator Shelby and I worked to help the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) transform from fighting bank robbers to fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and lone wolves. The bulk of the DOJ counterterrorism funding is for the FBI – $3.5 billion to uncover and discover plots against America. For example, we fund the Joint Terrorism Task Force which gets all the agencies working together in 104 cities. We make sure we have a watch list through terrorist screening centers and individual investigations that result in arrests of those who seek to join ISIL in Syria.
“This legislation before you also funds the National Security Division with $95 million to make sure we have prosecutors, law enforcement and intelligence communities coordinating to make the case against terrorists. We fund the U.S. Attorney’s Office at $51 million for terrorism prosecutions to make sure that when we catch these bad guys, they go to federal prison.
“We help local law enforcement train and respond to active shooter incidents. In the last decade we’ve had to respond to 160 incidents where there was an active shooter trying to commit mass murder.
“Overall, the bill contains a one percent increase for federal law enforcement. It’s what we could do with our budget allocation. But that’s not enough. Our tight allocation means we can’t afford the resources to respond to the threats to America and also stay within the budget caps.
“The FBI needs the right tools, the right technology and the right training to uncover and stop lone wolf and organized terrorist operations before they act. So I will offer an amendment to the bill to include $175 million of emergency funding for the FBI to fight terrorism – whether it originates overseas or here in the United States. We’ve helped fight terrorism with emergency supplemental funding for the FBI before, including every year between 2001 and 2008. The threat is growing and the emergency is now.
“Sunday’s attack was also a hate crime. No hate crime should be tolerated against any community or any group ever. America’s strength lies in its diversity. We all have to stand together, and we have to stand strong in denouncing prejudice and violence directed at any group. And we must speak out against hate in any form.
“I too want to express my condolences to those people who died at the Orlando nightclub. I also want to express my condolences to their family members and to the injured, all of whom will bear the permanent impact of this.
“This bill is a way of showing that we’re serious about hate crimes. The bill that Senator Shelby and I brought here maintains funding for the Civil Rights Division with $148 million to enforce antidiscrimination laws. We’ve worked with Assistant Attorney General Gupta and colleagues to keep schools safe and free from intolerance and discrimination. Again, we need more help there and I hope to add $30 million to that agency to fight discrimination. I also hope to add $11 million for the Community Relations Service, allowing them to hire 10 new mediation specialists and help communities begin to recover and heal in the aftermath of violence, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“Hearing the strong cry across the country, I know that there will be those who will be calling for action on gun control. Senator Feinstein and others will speak later today on that. So in terms of what just happened in Orlando, but also in Newtown and so on, I think we have a good response in the bill, and I think there are good pending amendments.
“But I also want to speak to the other part of the bill. One of my big issues is jobs – jobs today and jobs tomorrow. And in this legislation, working again with my colleagues, we put money into this bill for jobs and innovation. Why is innovation so important? For the companies in the S&P 500, about 80 percent of their value comes from intangible assets, patents and trademarks, research software – not bricks and mortar and inventory. That means that through innovation, companies gain new knowledge to invent new products and create new jobs.
“We want to win not only the Nobel prizes, but we want to also win the markets. But we have to start with research. That’s why we fund the National Science Foundation at $7.5 billion, supporting more than 11,000 research grants. The National Institutes of Standards and Technology is funded with $974 million to make sure that it sets our standards for products to be sold everywhere in the world. And those are American standards, not Chinese standards. We’re not buying Chinese mammogram equipment. We’re not buying Chinese equipment to make our cars lighter and safer. And also we’re doing important work there on cybersecurity.
“Also we fund the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). I am very proud of the work they do in terms of fisheries and oceans, and certainly their work in the Chesapeake Bay. NOAA also does very important weather predictions, so we made sure they had the right computational capacity to be able to do the weather forecasting we need. The hurricane season is upon us. We need to pinpoint when a hurricane is coming to be able to save lives and save property. The more accurate we can be, the earlier we can be, the more lives we will be able to save and also protect property. And that’s what NOAA does.
“Then, of course, there is NASA. My colleague from Alabama, Senator Shelby, and I have worked a number of years on the national space agencies. We’ve worked so hard for a balanced space program, human space flight, reliable space transportation, aeronautics in space science, and we’ve inspired new discovery. We’ve helped promote innovation. We’ve looked at new stars from the Hubble telescope. We’ve looked at Pluto using New Horizons. We spawned a new satellite servicing industry. And we’ve also looked out for the planet – whether it’s in Huntsville, Alabama or at the Goddard Space Flight Center, we’ve moved this country forward.
“We need our science agencies to invent, but we also need to be able to sell our products. That’s why we fund the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Senator Shelby and I believe private property needs to be protected, but intellectual property is also private property. We want to make sure that our Patent Office not a bottleneck but a pathway to protecting intellectual property. We also promote the trade administration and the Economic Development Administration.
“I look forward to a robust amendment process to address issues related to safety and security and other aspects of the bill. So I would hope that our colleagues would come forth, debate. There are no restrictions here to debate and then to offer their amendments. Now’s the time to seize the moment. I look forward to working with my colleague, Senator Shelby, and all of our colleagues to move this bill. I think at the end of the day we could be very proud of what we’re doing in this bill to protect America, in many different ways.”
Contact: Mara Stark-Alcalá (202) 224-2667
Next Article Previous Article