Good morning Chairman Obey, Ranking Member Frelinghuysen, and Members of the Subcommittee. I appear before you today to present the President‘s FY 2009 budget for the U.S. Department of Justice.
In my recent return to the Department, I have confirmed what I had hoped and expected to find -- men and women who are talented, hard-working and dedicated to fulfilling the Department‘s mission. As you are aware, the Department is charged with defending the interests of the United States according to the law; ensuring public safety against threats both foreign and domestic; seeking just punishment for lawbreakers; assisting our state and local partners; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
During my tenure, I have looked for opportunities to work with Congress to ensure that the Department is provided the statutory and other tools necessary to fulfill this crucial mandate. The Department relies on the funding from this committee to pursue our mandate and enhance our efforts in the areas that need it. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your continued support of the Department, and I very much look forward to continuing to work with you and the Members of the subcommittee this year to advance a budget that will help us to achieve our mission.
My written statement addresses the Department‘s budget request and goals in some detail, but I‘d like to take my remaining few minutes to highlight a few priorities. The Department‘s Budget Request for FY 2009 is $22.7 billion. These funds will allow us to accomplish our mission and to focus on several of the priorities I have discussed in other settings: national security, violent crime, immigration and border security, and public corruption. The President‘s FY 2009 Budget request reflects a 6% total increase over the FY 2008 enacted budget for law enforcement and prosecution programs.
I want to mention briefly four particularly important elements of the President‘s budget proposal. First, the proposal increases the resources dedicated to national security and counterterrorism efforts by $492.7 million, which includes resources necessary to expand and improve the counterterrorism programs of the newly created National Security Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Since the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department has mobilized its resources to help protect the Nation. In that time, this Committee has strongly and repeatedly shown its support of the Department‘s efforts in the war on terror.
Second, the budget dedicates an additional $100 million for the Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative. These funds will provide the essential resources, personnel, and infrastructure that is needed to address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and gun smuggling across the Southwest Border.
Third, the budget requests funds to support essential federal detention and incarceration programs that provide the infrastructure necessary for the Department‘s law enforcement personnel and prosecutors to carry out their responsibilities. As programs such as Project Safe Neighborhoods and the Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative investigate and prosecute dangerous criminals, the Department has to be ready to confine those individuals in a safe and secure environment.
Finally, the budget funds current base operations and reflects the Department‘s strategy to work in partnership with state, local, and tribal authorities and target funding to address the most significant needs in those communities. It is our collective obligation to ensure that our resources — whether expended on federal efforts or in support of our state and local partners — are used wisely and in a way calculated to achieve the most significant impact.
Chairman Obey, Representative Frelinghuysen, and Members of the Subcommittee, I want to thank you for this chance to present the President‘s FY 2009 Budget. With your continued support, the men and women of the Department of Justice who are protecting and serving this country can continue to do their jobs to ensure that justice is served. During a time of limited resources and tough decisions, I am grateful that the Committee continues to support the Department‘s mission and its people.
I thank you for inviting me to be here today. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.