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[Congressional Record: January 15, 2003 (Senate)]
[Page S391-S441]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

[[Continued from page S390]]

[[Page S391]]

BACKGROUND Purpose of the Bill This bill makes appropriations for the functions of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies for the period October 1, 2002, through September 30, 2003. Functional areas include the pay, allowances, and support of personnel, operation and maintenance, procurement of equipment and systems, and research. The bill provides funds for responding to the threat of terrorism, fighting crime, enhancing drug enforcement, addressing the shortcomings of the immigration process, continuing the judicial process, conducting commerce within the United States, improving State Department operations, and fullfilling the needs of various independent agencies. Hearings The Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies Appropriations began hearings on the fiscal year 2003 budget request on February 26, 2002, and concluded them on March 21, 2002, after holding 7 separate sessions. The subcommittee heard testimony from representatives of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and various commissions. Summary of the Bill The budget estimates for the departments and agencies included in the accompanying bill are contained in the budget of the United States for fiscal year 2003 submitted on January 30, 2002. The total amount of new budget authority recommended by the Committee for fiscal year 2003 is $44,932,043,000. This amount is an increase of $330,214,000 above appropriations enacted for fiscal year 2002 for these departments and agencies. The Committee recommendation is $924,636,000 above the budget estimates. The following paragraphs highlight major themes contained in this bill: FIGHTING TERROR AT ITS ROOTS THROUGH DEMOCRACY The Committee has responded to the threat of terrorism by reinforcing the Nation's preparedness and response capabilities. However, this threat also requires a long term response that addresses the root causes of terrorism. The United States can begin to do this by supporting organizations that work to bring democracy to countries that suffer under authoritarian regimes. Together with our allies, we must work to ensure peaceful and stable political and economic transitions in the troubled areas of the Middle East, Africa, South and Central Asia, and other regions where terrorism has flourished over the last decade. Our ultimate goal must be greater than mere regime-change. It must be for democratic principles to win the hearts and minds of all those who have never experienced democracy. We cannot do this unless we are willing to commit resources to fostering more open political systems, more transparent and effective governments and legal systems, more engaged and responsible civil societies, and open markets. The recommendation therefore includes initial funding to establish a center in Turkey, the mission of which will be to promote mutual understanding between the Muslim nations of the world and the West. The recommendation also includes substantial increases for certain U.S.-based non-profit organizations to augment their work in critical parts of the world, particularly the Middle East. In addition to the pioneering work of such independent organizations, the Department of State has a role to play in altering inaccurate perceptions of the United States. From direct U.S. assistance, which does not fall under this Committee's jurisdiction, to public diplomacy, which does, the Committee understands that the Department is developing a strategy to address the root causes of terrorism. The Committee looks forward to working with the State Department to engineer and execute this strategy.

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REFORMING THE INS AND FBI Perhaps no agencies face greater challenges in the wake of September 11 than the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] and the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS]. Both agencies awoke that dreadful day in the midst of the greatest internal crises in their respective histories. Years of mismanagement, neglect, and confusion left otherwise dedicated professionals ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the daily challenges of enforcing the Nation's criminal and immigration laws, much less deal with a security catastrophe that many liken to the attack on Pearl Harbor. ``What is to be done?'' is the question on everyone's lips and there are as many answers as there are observers. After appropriating more than $1,200,000,000 in emergency spending to the FBI and INS, it is unclear what improvements, if any, have been achieved in their domestic security posture. The Committee recommendation for the FBI and the INS provides an opportunity for both agencies to reflect, regroup, and refocus in anticipation of the fiscal year 2004 budget request.

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[[Page S412]]

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Justice prisoner and alien transportation system Appropriations, 2002................................................... Budget estimate, 2003.................................................. Committee recommendation....................................$77,694,000 The Committee recommends an appropriation of $77,694,000. The recommendation is $77,694,000 above the budget request. This account funds prisoner air transportation operations and maintenance, aircraft procurement, and facilities. The Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System's [JPATS'] per passenger pricing structure makes no provision for the capitalization of assets. The result is that large body aircraft responsible for prisoner movements will be flown until grounded for structural failure or other safety reasons. No replacements are planned. Therefore, unless Congress intervenes, the JPATS fleet will be allowed to diminish until no aircraft remain. Justice has no plan for dealing with the resulting crisis. The Committee recommendation has provided the funds necessary to avert disaster before it occurs. The funds provided will allow the Marshals to procure four modern, fuel efficient, wide body aircraft and spares to replace four first generation airliners that have reached the end of their useful service lives. The Marshals shall report to the Committees on Appropriations on its procurement strategy not later than February 28, 2003. Federal prisoner detention Appropriations, 2002.......................................$706,182,000 Budget estimate, 2003.................................................. Committee recommendation............................................... No funds are requested or recommended under the Federal Prisoner Detention Program. The budget request met the Committee's recommendation last year by centralizing funding for detention activities within the Federal Prisoner Detention Program and the Immigration and Naturalization Service under the Department of Justice Detention Trustee. This recommendation is identical to the budget request. fees and expenses of witnesses Appropriations, 2002.......................................$156,145,000 Budget estimate, 2003.......................................156,145,000 Committee recommendation....................................156,145,000 The Committee recommends an appropriation of $156,145,000. The recommendation is identical to the fiscal year 2002 funding level and the budget request. This account provides for fees and expenses of witnesses who appear on behalf of the Government in cases in which the United States is a party, including fact and expert witnesses. These funds are also used for mental competency examinations as well as witness and informant protection.

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Immigration and Naturalization Service (INCLUDING OFFSETTING FEE COLLECTIONS) salaries and expenses Appropriations, 2002.....................................$3,371,440,000 Budget estimate, 2003.....................................3,241,787,000 Committee recommendation..................................3,076,509,000 The Committee recommends an appropriation of $3,076,509,000. The recommendation is $165,278,000 below the budget request. The Committee recommendation includes a 4.1 percent pay increase. The reduction is attributable to the termination of a single program, discussed below, the transfer of Chimera funding to a separate account, and the transfer of terrorism task force resources to the Attorney General. The Committee is aware that up to $51,366,000 in carryover will be available to apply to this account and expects that new found efficiencies will free up additional resources. Managing into crisis.--Despite clear language in last year's conference report directing the INS to report shortfalls in the ``user fee account'' and instructing INS to fully cover ``base'' expenses in that account before undertaking program initiatives, the INS approached the Committee in June 2002 regarding an impending shortfall in the ``user fee account''. Congressional direction had been ignored, new spending initiated, and, predictably, crisis resulted. In earlier years, INS has allowed excessive, unbudgeted, temporary duty and overtime expenditures to eat deeply into capital investment accounts, resulting in serious shortfalls of basic equipment, vehicles, and facilities. There is only so much that can be done to nurse the INS through these self-inflicted wounds. Therefore, not later than 30 days after date of enactment of this Act, the INS shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations detailed spend plans for each appropriated and fee account under this heading. Each plan shall clearly demonstrate INS' strategy for living within its means in fiscal year 2003. The Committee will not entertain reprogrammings or supplemental requests increasing funding for any INS accounts short of the most extraordinary of circumstances. Training.--The long-awaited report on the effectiveness of basic training for Detention Enforcement Officers [DEOs] confirms the Committee's worst fears about the inadequacy of DEO training. INS has undertaken four initiatives to better prepare DEOs for their duties: (1) a review and reclassification of the DEO position description, (2) a revision of the course curriculum development process and training methodology, (3) an increase in the scope and length of the DEO basic training program, and (4) an expansion of continuing education to include all officers in the DEO program. The Committee is anxious to learn whether these initiatives are improving DEO preparedness for an increasingly complex job. Therefore, the Committee directs the INS to provide a follow up report on the effectiveness of basic training and continuing education for DEOs. The report shall be delivered not later than March 1, 2004. Information technology.--In a sense, the INS has the most difficult job of all in the war on terrorism. The volume of people moving across our border on a daily basis is staggering. Aliens that already have visas arriving at ports of entry benefit from a presumption of innocence, because they have been screened and passed by the U.S. Government once. Cues that inspectors might think indicate suspiciousness, such as an unwillingness to lock eyes, often have cultural roots that will muddle the results of spot interviews. How does an inspector pick out the terrorist from thousands of innocent people? Intelligence is the key, but this is intelligence of an order we have never seen. Many of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks are from good families, have no criminal record, and give no indication of a propensity for violence until they immolate themselves and everyone near. It is not enough to target and eliminate the masterminds. We must also identify and neutralize the recruit before his or her mission is accomplished. The current approach taken by the INS to address this problem, more bodies, more overtime, more of everything, will only hinder the most clumsy or conscience-stricken terrorists, a record borne out by whom we have picked up and whom we haven't. INS inspectors and Border Patrol agents must have real-time access to intelligence files. Not back in headquarters or at their offices, but at their posts or in their vehicles. Only then can they hope to discern targets from clutter. Unfortunately, the tangle of stovepiped data bases that comprise the INS' current information technology [IT] capabilities will take years to untangle. The Chimera system, mentioned above, will someday provide the backbone for a universal network, but the dream will not become reality for several years. In the meantime, investments must be targeted at existing systems that will ultimately integrate into Chimera. New stand alone systems, or antiquated systems scheduled for decommissioning as Chimera comes on line, do not merit further investment. The Committee looks forward to the IT strategy that will be proposed by Justice Management Division on behalf of the INS. Border Patrol Staff and Equipment.--Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the security of our borders has become paramount. To ensure there are sufficient personnel to protect our borders, the Committee recommendation includes an additional $76,276,000 for 570 additional Border Patrol agents, as authorized. Along with additional personnel, the recommendation includes an additional $28,000,000 to enhance the Enforcement Case Tracking System [Enforce] database and to deploy additional biometric equipment to better document and track the investigation, identification, apprehension, detention, and/ or removal of immigration law violators. Entry-exit system.--The Committee has begun to analyze the full implications of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, the Visa Waiver Permanent Program Act of 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act of 2000, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and the Immigration Act of 1990 regarding travel to and from the United States by Americans and foreigners. In brief, to fully implement laws currently on the books, it will be necessary for every traveler leaving or entering the United States, be they U.S. citizens or not, to be fingerprinted and to carry a machine-readable, tamper- proof travel document with at least one unique biometric identifier. Information on all travelers, including biographical information, biometrics, and entry and exit dates, will be retained within a central database, readily available to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies. Mandatory interviews for visa applicants will be required to provide necessary intelligence information and certain aliens will be required to register periodically. Cost estimates to properly implement the current body of law runs into the tens of billions of dollars. Based upon information provided to date, it is unclear what the proposed entry-exit system is or will become, and how it will address these expansive directives. More importantly, the case has yet to be made as to how entry-exit would stop would-be terrorists from entering the country. Therefore, no funds have been provided for this project. Border security--On its own initiative, the Justice Department recently unveiled the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System [NSEERS]. The ignoring of reprogramming requirements aside, it is alarming to see INS establishing what appears to be a new application to a stovepiped legacy computer system. It was exactly this kind of system development, the narrow design of systems or applications to replicate paperwork transactions that were unable or only marginally able to communicate with other databases, that created the information technology disaster that confronts the INS. NSEERS should be an application of Chimera. Also, the value of NSEERS remains [[Page S423]] questionable. Billed as a terrorist dragnet, only the most feeble-minded terrorist is apt to be tripped up by the questioning of an INS inspector. Although the Department recently claimed that NSEERS had nabbed 180 people, the implication being that they were terrorists, all 180 were routine criminals. Commendable, to be sure, but an inadvertent gain rather than mission success. The Committee cannot support expanding this program until it has a far better idea of how NSEERS fits into the INS' new enterprise database and how brief interviews will reveal terrorists for whom they are. Pay Upgrades.--Attrition rates among Border Patrol agents and INS inspectors is at an all time high. To help address this ever increasing crisis, the Committee recommendation includes an additional $37,200,000 for a Border Patrol pay increase from the GS-9 level to the GS-11 level for journeymen with 1 year of successful work experience and $20,600,000 for a pay increase for INS inspectors with 1 year of successful work experience at the GS-9 level. Land Border Inspectors.--The recommendation includes $34,000,000 to hire, train and deploy 460 additional immigration inspectors that will enhance border security at land border ports-of-entry. Staffing Levels.--The Committee notes that INS staffing levels at the Santa Teresa and Columbus Ports of Entry [PoEs] in New Mexico are not sufficient to meet the needs of those ports. In particular, though non-commercial traffic has significantly increased over the past year at Santa Teresa, INS staffing has not kept pace. The Committee urges the INS to give full consideration to the needs of the New Mexico PoEs when making staffing decisions. The Committee is aware of a growing number of illegal aliens in Iowa and Illinois. The Committee directs the INS to review the INS law enforcement needs of the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area incorporating the Iowa communities of Davenport and Bettendorf, and the Illinois communities of Moline and Rock Island. In addition, the Committee recognizes the heavy and increasing workload in the upper Shenandoah Valley, and encourages the INS to establish a sub-office with an officer- in-charge in Roanoke, Virginia. Alternatives to Detention.--The Committee recommendation includes $7,300,000 for the Alternatives to Detention Program. This funding will allow community-based organizations to screen asylum seekers and other INS detainees for community ties, provide them with necessary services, and help to assure their appearance at court hearings. Legal Orientation Programs.--The Committee recommends $2,800,000 for non-governmental agencies to provide ``live presentations'' to persons in INS detention prior to their first hearing before an immigration judge. These presentations will provide immigration detainees with essential information about immigration court procedures and the availability of legal remedies to assist detainees in distinguishing between meritorious cases and frivolous cases. Information Resource Management.--The Committee recommendation includes an additional $83,400,000 for an ``interoperable law enforcement and intelligence data system'' for the INS, referred to as Chimera, within a separate account under General Administration to be managed by the Justice Management Division. Green Cards.--The Committee is aware that resident aliens in the United States are using over 2,000,000 green cards with no expiration date. These documents do not have the secure features of the optical memory cards currently used as green cards, and thus could be subject to extensive counterfeiting and represent a major impediment to securing the nation's borders. The Committee directs the INS to submit a report not later than July 1, 2003 to the Committees on Appropriations with the number of green cards currently issued with no expiration date, the original date they were issued, as well as a proposed plan to replace these older green cards. The recommendation also includes $6,544,000 for the Debt Management Center, $16,289,000 for the Law Enforcement Support Center, and an additional $100,000,000 to address shortfalls in vehicles and equipment. Offsetting fee collections As in past years, the Committee directs the INS to allocate funding for base activities before it undertakes any program enhancements. Immigration user fee The Committee recommends a spending level of $658,295,000, the full amount requested. To the degree that fee resources are available, the Committee includes an increase of $51,503,000 over fiscal year 2002 for 760 additional inspectors and support staff for inspections operations at airports and seaports. INS Inspector Staffing.--The Committee recommends the INS give full consideration to the needs of the Miami International Airport and the Ed McNamara Terminal Northwest Airlines World Gateway when making airport inspector staffing decisions. Passenger and Crew Manifests.--The Committee directs the INS to fully cooperate with and provide up to $25,000,000 as a reimbursement to the Transportation Security Administration's [TSA's] Office of Maritime and Land Security in developing and establishing a Maritime Intelligence System [MIS], as defined in Section 70113 of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-295). The MIS system shall integrate and analyze collected data on passenger and crew manifests and any other information that could be construed as potential threats against the United States. Immigration examinations fee The Committee recommends a spending level of $1,462,803,000, the full amount requested. To the degree that fee resources are available, the Committee recommendation includes an increase of $50,496,000 to accelerate the pace of efforts to reduce the time required to adjudicate immigration benefit applications. With this funding, the INS claims it will be able to attain a 6-month national average for the processing of all benefits applications and ensure application processing and related services are timely, consistent, fair and of high quality.

[ ... ] [[Page S451]] directs that the facility be used as an International Center for Muslim-Western Dialogue, henceforward referred to as ``the Center'', the mission of which is to promote Democracy. The Committee directs the Secretary to collaborate with existing non-profit organizations that focus on Western- Muslim relations such as the Asia Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy [NED], and other U.S.-based centers for Islamic studies in developing a plan for the creation and administration of the Center. The Committee encourages the non-profit organizations involved in the planning of the Center to play a continuing role both in the administration of the Center and in the execution of its programs. The Department is directed to submit this plan to the Committees on Appropriations no later than May 15, 2003. Bureau of Consular Affairs.--The Bureau of Consular Affairs is tasked with providing support to U.S. citizens abroad, facilitating travel to and from and immigration to the United States, and serving as the first firewall of our national border security framework. Because of these responsibilities, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has more daily interaction with the public, both United States and foreign, than any other branch of the State Department. The Committee is aware that the overwhelming majority of Consular Affairs personnel respond to inquiries, requests, and crises in a professional and courteous manner. However, the Committee also is aware of number of complaints by Americans and foreign nationals about discourteous treatment at certain U.S. posts overseas. The Committee recommendation includes $500,000, to be transferred to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State, with which it shall undertake a thorough review of the quality of service Consular Affairs provides to both the U.S. and non-U.S. public it is intended to serve. This review should consider the nature and quantity of the complaints received, to the extent that such information is available. It should also include an analysis of those policies and procedures currently in place within the Bureau of Consular Affairs that may cause the Bureau's service to be less than optimal, and recommendations for how consular services can be improved. The Inspector General's report should be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations no later than September 31, 2003. The Committee is committed to building a first-rate consular service. However, no agency or program can achieve excellence unless its deficiencies are identified through regular, independent assessments. It is hoped, therefore, that Consular Affairs will view this Inspector General report as an opportunity to identify and address its weaknesses in the area of customer service, and not as an attempt to derogate the work performed by dedicated consular officers worldwide. Consular workspace improvement initiative.--The Department's consular mission is critical to our national security. Consular workspace must be adequately sized and outfitted in order to ensure that the processing of visas and visa applicants takes place in an organized and efficient manner. To ensure this, and to improve the overall working environment for Consular Affairs Officers, the Committee directs the Office of Overseas Buildings Operations [OBO] to undertake a 3-year Consular Workspace Improvement Initiative. The Committee is aware that, traditionally, OBO considers posts' facilities requirements in a holistic manner, and does not single out specific bureaus for workspace improvements. However, the Committee is also aware of the direct link between the quality of consular workspace and the efficiency and accuracy of consular work. There is a pressing need for additional consular windows and interview space, enlarged reception and waiting areas, office space, and document storage space. The Initiative should identify posts for consular workspace rehabilitation where errors in visa issuance present the greatest threat to our national security, as determined by OBO in consultation with the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Committee expects construction to begin on priority projects no later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act. The Committee directs that $10,000,000 within the funds made available under Diplomatic and Consular Programs be used for this initiative. Language training.--Several reports have identified a serious shortage within the Federal Government of personnel who possess the language skills required for their positions. This challenge appears particularly acute at the Department of State where language skills are, in so many instances, directly linked to the execution of the Core Missions. Reliable aggregate data on the language capabilities of Foreign Service Officers [FSOs] is, however, not generally available or, when available, is seriously flawed. The Department has indicated that the primary factor contributing to its inability to meet its language staffing and proficiency goals is an overall staffing shortfall of more than 1,100 people, as identified in the Department's Diplomatic Hiring Report. This report precipitated the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative, a program under which 1,158 new Foreign Service Officers will be hired over a 3-year period. However, the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative does little to address the specific problem of language proficiency at the Department. Funds available for salaries should be leveraged to provide pay incentives to FSOs who gain expertise in hard-to-learn languages, to provide an attractive career path for linguists, to enhance the retention of FSOs with desired language skills, and to provide ample training opportunities to FSOs willing to learn a difficult language mid-career. Funds provided for workforce retention should also be utilized to recruit native speakers of difficult and hard to fill languages, drawing upon the vast human resources afforded by a demographically diverse United States. Language proficiency must be a criterion in the selection of FSOs. If our diplomats truly are our ``first line of defense'' against foreign threats, then their ability to converse fluently in the languages of the countries to which they are posted is critical to national security. The Committee therefore directs that not less than 20 percent of the FSOs hired during fiscal year 2003 possess language skills of at least level 3 (General Professional) or greater on the foreign language proficiency scale. Further, the Committee directs that not less than 2 percent of the foreign service officers hired during fiscal year 2003 possess a proficiency level of 2 (Limited Working) or greater in one or more of the following difficult languages: Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, and Cantonese Chinese. Finally, the Committee directs the Department to develop a proposal, to be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations by September 31, 2003 for approval, for a pay incentive package exclusively for current and future Foreign Service Officers who have achieved level 4 (Advanced Professional) proficiency or greater in at least one of the aforementioned difficult languages. Continuing language education.--Language skills ensure that dependents of Department of State personnel are not overwhelmed by isolation and alienation, resulting in lowered post morale. Within available funds, the Committee recommendation directs that $10,000,000 shall be available only for continuing language education programs for both employees and dependents at posts worldwide. Language classes should also be open to non-State Department (Federal) employees on a space-available, reimbursable basis. Office of Foreign Missions.--The Committee directs that the Office of Foreign Missions [OFM] be moved out of Bureau of Diplomatic Security [DS] and placed under the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources [M]. The Committee is aware that OFM has linkage to law enforcement issues, however, the Office is more appropriately situated under M. OFM and DS should continue to coordinate closely after the transfer.

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[Page S452]

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