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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

U.S. Department of
Homeland Security

Statement by Secretary Ridge before the House Subcommittee on Appropriations

March 20, 2003

[ ... ]

Good morning Chairman Rogers, Congressman Sabo, distinguished members of the subcommittee. It is a distinct pleasure to appear before you to discuss the President's FY 2004 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. For historical purposes, I would like to note that this is the first budget request ever for a Department of Homeland Security. For practical purposes, I would add that we are a Department engaged in many firsts, with each of these new undertakings presenting both challenges and opportunity. I would like to thank this subcommittee, and the committee that created it, for the supportive approach you have demonstrated in taking on the challenge of advancing the cause of homeland security. I would also like to add my compliments and thanks to your staff for their professionalism, flexibility and patience as we work together through this most important "first ever" DHS budget. The President's Budget request for Fiscal Year 2004 lays a critical and solid foundation for the future of the Department of Homeland Security. It is a $ 36.2 billion commitment to advancing the safety and security of our America.

This request represents a 7.4% increase in funding for DHS programs over FY 03.  It contains critical initiatives to advance the efficiency and effectiveness of our Department, supports ongoing efforts and programs, and sustains vital, non-security services and missions throughout the Department.  

The President's budget contains $18.1 billion  for Border and Transportation Security.  This figure reflects organizational improvements, funds personnel enhancements, training, and improves the technologies needed to support two of the Department's strategic goals to improve border and transportation security while at the same time, facilitate the unimpeded flow of legitimate commerce and people across our borders and through our seaports and airports.  

The budget request also calls for $3.5 billion to strengthen the readiness capabilities of state and local governments that play a critical role in the Nation's ability to prepare for and respond to acts of terrorism and supports a "one-stop" shop for state and local response funding and training needs within the Office of Domestic Preparedness.

Funding requested for Emergency Preparedness and Response totals $5.9 billion.  These funds will be used to enhance nationwide readiness to manage and respond to disasters, whether caused by the forces of nature, or the forces of evil.  

In addition to fully funding traditional FEMA programs, the President's budget includes needed investment in America's pharmaceutical and vaccine stockpiles.  It also includes nearly a billion dollars for project BioShield, a critically needed incentive for the development and deployment of new and better drugs and vaccines to protect Americans from the threat of bioterrorism.

The request for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection is $829 million.  The funds will support the directorate's efforts to analyze intelligence and other information to evaluate terrorist threats, assess the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, issue timely warnings to private sector industries, and work with Federal, state, local and private stakeholders to take appropriate protective action.  The President's request provides the resources necessary for us to carry out these most important and unique DHS responsibilities.

$809 million is requested for the directorate of Science and Technology.  In the quest to secure our Homeland, we face fanatical and sinister enemies.  Their willingness to contemplate the most evil of means, and the possibility that others might help them to acquire those means, create an absolute imperative that we sustain a scientific and technological edge to stay ahead of our enemies.  

The funds requested for Science and Technology will support the essential research, development, testing and evaluation needed to do just that, through existing programs and institutions as well as new entities like the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency.  

The President requests $6.8 billion for the United States Coast Guard, a 10 percent increase over FY 03 for this vital component of the new Department of Homeland Security charged with pushing our maritime borders farther out to sea.  

This request will support continued and enhanced operations of the service across its broad portfolio of indispensable missions.  It enables the Coast Guard to grow to meet its ever-increasing security responsibilities, while at the same time sustaining operational excellence in non-security functions.  The request provides for vital recapitalization of the Coast Guard's offshore, near shore, and communications assets.

The proposed budget also contains $1.3 billion for the United States Secret Service so they may perform their unique mission of protection and criminal investigation. The funds will support the Secret Service's protection of the President, the Vice President and their families; heads of state; the security for designated National Special Security Events; and the investigation and enforcement of laws relating to counterfeiting, fraud and financial crimes.

$1.8 billion of the President's budget request will support the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, including $500 million aimed at reducing the backlog of applications and ensuring a six-month process standard for all applications.

In summary, this budget request for the Department of Homeland Security supports the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security.  This strategy provides the Administration's basic framework to mobilize and organize the nation--federal, state and local governments, the private sector, and the American people--in the complex mission to protect our homeland.  

We have begun the first steps of our critical work, but we are only at the beginning of what will be a long struggle to protect our nation from terrorism.  While much has been accomplished, there is much more work to do.  This budget will provide the resources to enable the Department to manage its responsibilities and lead the effort to make our country safer and more secure.

[ ... ]

[ End ]



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