Mikulski Statements on CJS Bill & Funding Amendment at Full Committee Markup
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS), participated in the Full Committee markup of the fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. Senator Mikulski offered a funding amendment to provide the resources to make a good bill, a great bill.
The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks on the CJS bill and CJS funding amendment, as prepared for delivery:
Opening Statement on CJS Appropriations Bill
“I am pleased to have worked with Senator Shelby on the CJS bill. He is a true partner on several key issues like public safety and innovation that are important to Maryland and to the country.
“I want to explain why my amendment is necessary. While Senator Shelby’s CJS allocation looks higher than last year’s – it is not. Last year, we had a one-time $1.1 billion credit from Toyota’s settlement with the Justice Department, which went into the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. Those funds have been spent and are not available in 2016.
“The Republican budget agreement also limited our scorekeeping adjustments from the Crime Victims Fund – one of our so-called CHIMPs. That cost the CJS bill another $2 billion. So the CJS bill is simply underfunded based on the post-sequester levels of the Budget Control Act. We really need a sequel to the Murray-Ryan budget deal sooner rather than later.
“The Commerce Department is a job creator, supporting infrastructure, innovation and exports. The bill provides strong funding for Economic Development Administration grants with $213 million, $100 million of which is for the Public Works infrastructure grants that benefit every single state, including my home state of Maryland.
“We increased the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) funding by $29 million, including a $7 million increase for cybersecurity research. There is also strong funding of $473 million for the International Trade Administration. Senator Graham and I are partners on export promotion, focusing on Asia and Africa where American exporters need the most help.
“The Commerce Department also plays a role in public safety, providing weather alerts to help keep people out of harm’s way. Full funding of $1.7 billion for the JPSS and GOES weather satellites will help get them back on track and back on budget. Also included in the bill is $135 million for the Polar Follow-On, so the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can start building the next generation of weather satellites.
“We can’t have strong, vibrant communities unless they are safe. The CJS bill includes $2.3 billion for key grants for our state and local police departments, including $187 million for COPS hiring grants, which will put 1,000 new police officers on the beat and $382 million for Byrne-JAG grants, which provide resources for important equipment like radios for our officers.
“I also want to thank Committee Members for good ideas included in this bill. Senators Leahy and Shaheen, among others, brought me concerns about the resurgence of heroin use. This bill has $7 million for anti-heroin task forces to help local police battle new threats from an old drug.
“This bill funds Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs at the highest level ever – $479 million – to help women leave dangerous situations and access temporary housing and counseling. We also have $41 million of funding to stop the rape kit backlog, which will be used not only to test rape kits, but to provide victims with other services as well. This will help get justice for rape victims and reform police procedures, so backlogs don’t happen ever again.
“The Senate CJS bill also funds our federal law enforcement agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has robust funding of $8.5 billion, an increase of $106 million from last year’s enacted level. This funding is important for investigating cyber crimes like the hacking of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) system last week or the attack on insurance provider CareFirst in May. Cyber attacks like these leave our personal information vulnerable to being stolen and used by fraudsters, so the FBI is helping government and private sector entities stop this crime.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Marshals Service are funded at their fiscal year 2015 levels, totaling $4.8 billion for the three agencies to continue to keep us safe from violent crime, catch child predators and stop gangs and drug dealers.
“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funded at $18.3 billion – $280 above the fiscal year 2015 level. The bill supports NASA science with $5.3 billion, $50 million more than last year and $6 million more than the President’s request. This level will help keep America number one in astronomy including $620 million in funding for the James Webb Space Telescope being managed by the Goddard Space Center in Maryland and will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble. There is also $90 million for W-FIRST to help understand the dark energy that makes up 74 percent of the universe.
“The bill helps us to better understand and protect our planet with $1.9 billion for Earth Science, including $100 million to accelerate Landsat-9. It advances our knowledge of the Sun and solar wind, so we can protect our electric grid on Earth by providing $230 million for Solar Probe Plus, our first mission into the Sun. We also included $150 million for satellite servicing to repair worn and aging satellites with robots, saving money on new satellites and creating a whole new industry.
“The National Science Foundation is provided 7.3 million dollars to support the innovative pipeline of students, researchers, and entrepreneurs. The bill funds 15,000 grants for education and basic research that support 165,000 scientists, students, and teachers.
“I support voting this bill out of Committee, but I will offer an amendment to make a good bill a great bill by adding needed resources for community safety, federal law enforcement and innovation to create new jobs today and new industries tomorrow. And we will not support considering these bills on the floor until we have a sequel to Murray-Ryan to undo the irresponsible, post-sequester level spending caps.”
Statement on Mikulski CJS Funding Amendment
“I want to thank Senator Shelby again for doing the best he could with his allocation. Senator Shelby has always been a true partner on CJS. We have a good bill before us, but I’m offering an amendment to make this a great bill.
“I want to explain why my amendment is necessary. While Senator Shelby’s CJS allocation looks higher than last year’s – it is not. Last year, we had a one-time $1.1 billion credit from Toyota’s settlement with the Justice Department, which went into Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. Those funds have been spent and are not available in 2016.
“The Republican budget agreement also limited our scorekeeping adjustments from the Crime Victims Fund – one of our so-called CHIMPs. That cost the CJS bill another $2 billion. So the CJS bill is simply underfunded based on the post-sequester levels of the Budget Control Act. We need really need a sequel to the Murray-Ryan budget deal sooner rather than later.
“This bill is a good bill, but I think it could be a great bill. With that in mind, I am offering an amendment that would add $2.784 billion to the CJS bill contingent on getting a budget deal that rolls back the irresponsible sequester cuts. My amendment adds much needed resources for two things: community safety and innovation.
“Community safety is not really a ‘discretionary’ item. We need to protect our families and neighborhoods from criminals and predators by adding more funding for federal, state and local law enforcement to put more cops on the beat and keep our streets safe from crime. My amendment also invests more in severe weather forecasting so people can get out of harm’s way and increases funding for pro bono legal services to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“To spur innovation, I increased investments in science and discovery to provide more support for bringing new ideas to the marketplace, which keeps our Nation’s economy growing and adds to job creation.
“National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) helps to transform basic research into high-tech development. My amendment includes $269 million for NIST to support cutting edge-research that drives private sector innovation in advanced fields like quantum cryptography, manufacturing investments to bring jobs back home and construction funding for our innovation infrastructure, ensuring that progress is supported by state-of-the-art labs, not hindered by crumbling walls.
“Once the research and innovation pipeline leads to American products, we need to invest in the Foreign Commercial Service to sell American goods overseas, too. Exports support almost 12 million American jobs, which is why my amendment adds $34 million for the International Trade Administration.
“My amendment also supports a more innovative government. In 2010, we conducted the Census with paper and pencil. My amendment invests $360 million in smarter technology, like internet response. We have to spend millions now to save billions later.
“I also add an additional $154 million to fund federal law enforcement. Additional resources are still needed for the U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to continue to hire new agents and deputy marshals so they can stop more criminals and get them off our streets.
“Funding at my level will allow the ATF to make critical improvements at the National Firearms Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia. This will reduce processing time for gun trace requests made by other law enforcement agencies that are key to solving crimes in our communities that involved the use of a gun.
“My amendment adds an additional $95 million for COPS Hiring grants, which will put an additional 500 police officers on the beat, which will also aid in stopping crime in our communities.
“But community safety isn’t just about law enforcement. This amendment also invests in safety from weather events and disasters by providing $245 million, the requested level, for polar follow-on satellites. Weather forecasts don’t just come from an app. We can’t forecast storms and tornadoes and ensure people can get to safety when Mother Nature is in the way, without satellite data.
“The amendment fully funds the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to help provide much needed legal assistance to the most vulnerable in our society. Adding $67 million for LSC will help nearly 1,000 people receive legal assistance. In more than two-thirds of civil cases, at least one party appears in court without a lawyer. The stakes are often high – it’s important for people to secure much needed legal help for remaining in a family home, getting wages earned and deserved, and helping victims of domestic abuse leave their abusers. LSC clients include veterans and military families, farmers, the disabled and the elderly.
“My amendment also feeds the innovation pipeline, because our world-class scientists and entrepreneurs generate American ideas, American products and American jobs in the private sector. While the Commerce Department helps sell American goods overseas, I want to talk about buying American goods at home, too.
“I think we should be buying American flights to the International Space Station, but the base bill doesn’t have sufficient funding to keep commercial crew on schedule for U.S. space flight by 2017. My amendment will ensure that we stop relying on Russia to take Americans into space. I’ve added a $300 million investment so we can stop paying foreign governments and start relying on American technology and American companies. And when we’re ready to leave low-Earth Orbit, we will need an American-made capsule to travel to Mars and beyond, so I’ve added $50 million for the Orion space capsule.
“My amendment adds $349 million to National Science Foundation (NSF) research and education, bringing research and education programs up to the requested level to support today’s scientists who are dedicated to new discoveries and help today’s students become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
“In 1994, two graduate school students worked on a $4.5 million research project funded by NSF. That $4.5 million got us Google, which is today is worth $365 billion – what a return on investment: $80,000 to $1. Not every grant is a Google, but they are catalysts for innovation. This amendment will fund an additional 700 grants and support 9,000 more researchers, students and teachers.
“As I’ve said before, we do have a good CJS bill before us, but my amendment would make it a great bill. This amendment is not controversial: no gimmicks and no policy riders. It is a true investment in our community safety and economic security – not just lives, but livelihoods, too.
“Without a sequel to Murray-Ryan we will not be able to proceed to this bill on the floor, so I want to start talking about responsible funding levels now and not wait until the 11th hour. I urge my colleagues to vote for my amendment.”
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