Mikulski Opening Statement at CJS Subcommittee Hearing on Department of Justice FY17 Budget Request
***YouTube video of opening statement – here
***YouTube video of Q&A -- here
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee, attended a CJS hearing on the Department of Justice’s fiscal year 2017 budget request.
The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“I’m glad to be here with Chairman Shelby, welcoming Attorney General Loretta Lynch to her second hearing before the subcommittee this year.
“I look forward to hearing Attorney General Lynch’s testimony today on the impacts of this fiscal year 2017 budget request on the Justice Department and the American people. I’m eager to also hear from you about ongoing efforts at the many Justice Department agencies to keep our nation safe and secure from terrorism, violent crime, drugs and cyber attacks.
“First, thank you again Attorney General Lynch for your professionalism and interaction with the Maryland delegation, with the leadership of Baltimore, including our Mayor, our law enforcement officers, our community leaders and our faith leaders, in the aftermath of last year’s riots. The ongoing work of your team continues to be tremendously helpful to the mayor and our Police Department, but most of all to the citizens of Baltimore to know they have the Justice Department on their side.
“To try to rebuild the trust between police and the communities they serve, I included several criminal justice reforms in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus such as getting state and local police departments to submit how their officers are trained on use of force and racial and ethnic bias to the Justice Department when submitting grant applications like Byrne-JAG. I want to hear how the Justice Department is implementing these reforms now.
“I want to cover how the Justice Department is tackling the scourge of heroin in our communities. Last year in my state of Maryland, we had 578 heroin-related deaths. This is unacceptable.
“All of our communities are experiencing this crisis, as this is an issue that cuts across class, race and age as well as rural, urban and suburban communities. But we can’t just enforce our way out of this crisis. We need to break the cycle of addiction for drug users while we also crack down on dealers and traffickers.
“I want to hear from you about what’s working and what isn’t. How the Justice Department can be a better partner in state and local efforts to stop the heroin epidemic. On February 2, the President announced $1.1 billion in funding to tackle the heroin and opioid crisis. While most of the funding is going to the Department of Health and Human Services, I want to hear what this request buys for the Justice Department.
“We made an investment of $390 million in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus to fund a new headquarters building for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – a 21st century building for a 21st century workforce. This budget request continues that investment with a total of $1.4 billion for fiscal year 2017 comprised of $646 million in the FBI’s construction account and $759 million for the General Services Administration.
“I want to hear more about this request, to hear how the Justice Department plans to keep this project on track, on time and on target. We want to minimize any delays or derailments. I want to ensure this request covers what’s really needed: to get the men and women of the FBI the building to improve their operations, get them under one roof and keep up with criminals and world-wide threats. I look forward to hearing more about this project and how we can continue to help get it going.
“As appropriators, we put money in the federal checkbook, funding the Justice Department. Last year, this Committee funded the Justice Department at $29.1 billion. This year, the President is requesting $29.9 billion, an increase of $802 million. I want to know if this funding level is enough and if it will cover the issues many of our communities face from stopping violent crime and fighting heroin use, to preventing domestic violence and child abuse, and keeping those that prey on our children off of our streets. I also want to ensure that promises made last year are promises kept this year.
“Every day we count on the Justice Department to fulfill its vital mission. We must ensure that it has the resources it needs to protect the lives of millions of Americans. I want you to know we really salute the 115,000 employees who work for the Justice Department, including the 25,000 federal agents, 18,000 correctional officers and prison staff, 11,000 prosecutors and investigators, and the wonderful support staff that really keep Justice moving. While you may get the headlines, they make sure they keep it all going.
“The Justice Department had an amazing year to show for it. Deputy marshals arrested more than 11,000 fugitive sex offenders, the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested more than 1,500 drug traffickers, assistant U.S. attorneys charged more than 73,000 defendants in criminal court, and the FBI dismantled 460 criminal groups and 157 gangs.
“I thank Attorney General Lynch for her leadership. She has brought to the Justice Department the experience of a career prosecutor dedicated to protecting the American people. I look forward to continuing our work together, making a safer, stronger America.”
Contact: Mara Stark-Alcalá (202) 224-2667
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