[Congressional Record: July 15, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
PUBLIC COMPANY ACCOUNTING REFORM AND INVESTOR PROTECTION ACT OF 2002
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good job. I do not agree with him on each and every part of it, but he
has always been open. We have had many good discussions. I am confident
that in the end we will write a bill that will be broadly supported and
that will be in the interest of the country.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the hour of 4:55
having arrived, the Senator from West Virginia is recognized.
Mr. BYRD. Madam President, there is a game being played with the
critical issue of homeland security. It is a political game which could
have disastrous consequences.
The White House is talking big about homeland security, exhibiting
strong presidential interest in homeland security, trotting out
proposals for a whole new Department of Homeland Security, and
It is strange, then, strange indeed that despite its public
pronouncements on homeland security, the White House refuses to back
the rhetoric up with resources.
Twice--once last year, and currently--large bipartisan majorities in
both Houses of Congress have withstood veto threats from this
administration and insisted on significant funding increases for
President Bush's own appointees have all but begged the President's
OMB Director for additional funds to fight the war on terrorism here at
home. Many of these requests are urgent and quite compelling, yet the
OMB has continually rejected a surprising number of these pleas. It is
as if this administration has delivered an internal unfunded mandate to
its own cabinet secretaries and Federal workers. Fight the war on
terrorism on every front here in the homeland. Fight vigorously. Spare
nothing, but make sure you do it on a shoestring. Protect our people
here at home, but protect them on the cheap.
The Department of Energy proposed a total of $380 million to fund
projects to enhance the security of radioactive materials here at home
and overseas, including: better security measures to safeguard the
transport of nuclear weapons within the United States; improvements in
the ways in which we secure and store plutonium; cleaning up,
transporting, and protecting low-level radioactive materials that could
be used in a ``dirty bomb.''
For these and similar activities $380 million was asked for by the
Secretary of Energy. But do you know what? That request fell on deaf
ears at the Office of Management and Budget. Despite all of the
worrying and nail biting about what would happen if some lunatic
obtained radioactive material and detonated a ``dirty bomb'' on the
mall in Washington or in some other large city, the OMB provided less
than $27 million or about 7 percent of the Energy Department's request.
Let me say that again: The OMB provided less than $27 million or about
7 percent of the Energy Department's request. This urgent supplemental
bill contains $361 million for the Department to dedicate to securing
these dangerous and vulnerable materials. That is $334 million above
the amount requested by the President.
Another striking omission from the Bush supplemental request for
homeland security involved efforts to deport those individuals who
entered the country on visas that have now expired. Currently there are
an estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and
only 2,000 interior immigration enforcement officers nationwide. This
is a very dangerous situation. We know that terrorists live and plot
their crimes among us. The Immigration and Naturalization Service
requested $52 million for analysts to help find, arrest and deport
high-risk individuals who have disregarded the departure dates on their
OMB said no, nada, nix. It denied the entire request. The
supplemental bill, now stuck in conference because of the
administration's latest demands, contains $25 million that the
Appropriations Committee believes the INS can usefully spend this year
to address the need to locate some of these individuals. We also
include $88 million for construction and equipping of border
facilities, and for improved border inspections.
Last fall, OMB denied $1.5 billion in funding which the FBI requested
in the wake of the attack on the twin towers in New York. Part of the
FBI's funding request was for acceleration of a new computer system
that will be at the heart of all communications within the bureau. Also
included in the request were funds to enhance the internal security of
the FBI's systems and procedures; for ``cyber cops'' and for hazardous
materials personnel. The Congress provided $212 million above the
President's request to permit completion of the new computer system
much earlier than would be allowed under the Bush plan. In addition, we
have included--the Appropriations Committee--$175 million for cyber
security and counter terrorism in the supplemental that the White House
is now delaying--delayed at the last minute last Thursday evening.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that this administration talks a
good game about homeland security but it is unwilling to put its money
where its mouth is.
Over this past weekend, during his radio address, the President said
that, ``Strengthening our economy and protecting the homeland and
fighting the war on terror are critical issues that demand prompt
attention.'' I agree. I only wish that the same message would be made
clear to the Office of Management and Budget.
We have worked diligently in the Congress to get these critical
homeland security monies out to federal and local personnel charged
with protecting our people. Yet, we have been met by objection after
objection by this administration.
In March, the President insisted he needed more money for national
defense in an urgent supplemental. We gave him every dollar he
requested. In addition, the House and Senate provided more money for
critical homeland defense needs.
Instead of letting the House and Senate work out our differences and
get the funding out, the White House started issuing veto threats
before the Senate bill was even off of the floor. And last Thursday
evening, just as all differences appeared to be worked out, the White
House bomb throwers blew up the agreement with new demands.
It makes one wonder how much the White House really needs that
defense money and it certainly causes one to wonder how serious this
administration really is about homeland security.
Senator Stevens and I have beseeched the White House over and over
again to have the Homeland Security Director come before our Committee
to tell us about the needs for Homeland Security. Our requests were
denied. We held days of hearings with administration officials, local
firefighters, policemen, mayors and governors. We did our best and
funded the needs as testimony we heard indicated.
We wrote a good bill, and we were ready to convene the conference
Friday. But our efforts were blown up by the OMB Director, suddenly and
completely and with no warning until the very last minute, Thursday
So needs go wanting in our military and in our homeland defense
effort. There is no excuse for such irresponsibility. Such tactics are
not in the best interests of our people. Hollow rhetoric on homeland
security will never replace solid funding for these needs.
Political gamesmanship over issues so critical to our Nation and our
people is irresponsible, arrogant and totally out of line.
I deplore the arrogance with which the good faith efforts of both
Houses of Congress have been treated by this White House. Apparently
the security and safety of this nation and its people have taken a back
seat to gamesmanship by a White House that has no respect for the
people's representatives or for the people's urgent needs.
Under OMB Director Mitch Daniels' stewardship, the Federal budget has
gone from a surplus of $127 billion in FY 2001 to an estimated deficit
for the current fiscal year of $165 billion. This is a swing of $292
billion in just one year.
The President is now threatening to veto the urgent national defense
and homeland defense supplemental appropriations bill based on Mr.
Daniels recommendation. Why? Because Mr. Daniels asserts that the bill
spends too much money. Yet the conference report's spending levels that
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