Since my nomination was approved by the Senate and I arrived at 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 historic 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 tools and financial resources necessary to fulfill these important mandates. The Department relies on the funding from this Subcommittee to pursue our mission and enhance our efforts in the areas that need it. Thank you for your continued support of the Department, and I very much look forward to continuing to work with each of you 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 detail, but I’d like take to a minute to highlight a few priorities. The Department’s Budget Request for FY 2009 is $22.7 billion. These critical funds will allow us to accomplish our broad-based 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.
I would like 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 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 required 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 must be ready to keep those individuals in a safe, secure and humane environment, and also to assure the safety of the staff in our prisons.
Finally, the budget fully funds our base 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.
Chairwoman Mikulski, Senator Shelby, and Members of the Subcommittee, I want to thank you for this opportunity to present the President’s FY 2009 Budget. In the last few months, my knowledge of, and respect for, the men and women who are protecting and serving this country has only grown. And it is with your continued support that they 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 you continue to support the Department’s mission and its people.
Thank you for inviting me to be here today. I will try to answer any questions you may have.