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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Opening Statement Before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Thank you, Chair Shaheen, Ranking Member Moran, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, for the opportunity to discuss the Justice Department’s funding request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025.

Since I last appeared before you, the public servants of the Justice Department have continued to advance our mission: to keep our country safe, to protect civil rights, and to uphold the rule of law.

Our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, law enforcement agents, and grantmaking experts have worked together with police and community partners across the country to help drive down violent crime.

We have gone after the cartels that traffic deadly fentanyl.

We have prosecuted fraud, recovered stolen funds, and challenged illegal monopolies.

We have investigated and prosecuted hate crimes that terrorize entire communities.

We have worked to defend the reproductive freedoms that are protected by federal law.

We have worked to combat a disturbing spike in threats of violence against those who serve the public — including judges, police officers, Senators, and even against our own employees.

And in everything we do, we have worked to ensure the equal protection of law that is the foundation of our democracy.

I am proud of the work we have done. And I am deeply proud of the way the Department’s public servants — from our agents to our attorneys to our administrative staff — have gone about their work. They have conducted themselves in a way the American people should be proud of.

But we recognize that we have so much more to do.

Our Fiscal Year 2025 budget request reflects the difficult budget environment we are in, and the extremely difficult choices that we had to make because of it.

It also reflects the resources that we need, now more than ever, to continue our work.

When I became Attorney General three years ago, I knew that grappling with the violent crime that surged during the pandemic would be one of our greatest challenges.

I am glad to be able to report that last year, we saw a significant decrease in overall violent crime compared to the previous year — including an over 13% decline in homicides. That is the largest one-year drop in homicides in 50 years.

And data indicates this decline is continuing — as the Wall Street Journal recently reported just this week, in the first three months of this years, homicides dropped 20% across 133 cities as compared to the same time period last year.

But, I want to be very clear: there is no acceptable level of violent crime. Too many communities are still struggling, too many people are still scared, and the hard-fought progress we are seeing can easily slip away. We must remain focused and vigilant.

To continue to help keep our country safe from a range of threats, we are seeking a total of $21 billion to support the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, as well as the Criminal Division and National Security Division.

We will use these resources to prosecute illegal gun traffickers and straw purchasers; to invest in the advanced technological tools that help us fight gun violence; and to hold accountable the cartel members and leaders and associates who are responsible for poisoning our communities with fentanyl.

We will use these resources to counter the threats that the governments of Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea pose to our country.

And we will use these resources to strengthen our work to counter both foreign and domestic terrorism. As the FBI Director has testified, we are facing an increasing threat of foreign terrorism since October 7.

That is why the Department also urges the Senate to act to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before it expires this Friday. As you know, Section 702 is indispensable to our work to protect the American people from cyber, nation-state, terrorist, and other threats.

In addition to our own prosecutorial and investigative resources, we also recognize the importance of our partnerships to help keep our country safe.

So, we are seeking investments in the Department’s three grantmaking components — the Office of Justice Programs, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office on Violence Against Women. They support community and law enforcement partners through more than 200 grant programs.

Our budget requests more than $4.3 billion to support the public safety efforts of our state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement and community partners, including $2.5 billion for our COPS Hiring Program.

And as part of our effort to administer safe and humane federal detention and prison systems, we are requesting $8.8 billion for the Bureau of Prisons. That includes resources to address urgent staffing and infrastructure needs. As I have noted many times before, when the Justice Department was founded in 1870, one of its principal purposes was the protection of civil rights. Protecting both the safety and the civil rights of everyone in our country remains our urgent obligation.

Our budget seeks $201.3 million for the Civil Rights Division to continue its essential work — including to deter and prosecute hate crimes; to ensure constitutional policing; to enforce federal laws prohibiting discrimination in all forms; and to protect the right of all eligible citizens to vote and to have that vote counted.

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. Protecting that right requires us to protect the citizens who we rely on to fairly administer our elections.

Our democracy cannot function if the officials, workers, and volunteers who administer our elections have to fear for their lives just for doing their jobs. The Justice Department is aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who threaten election workers with violence. And we will continue to do so.

As I said, I am extremely proud of the work the Department’s employees, the work that they are doing to advance our mission.

Their work brings them face-to-face with some of our country’s greatest challenges. And many of them risk their lives to protect the public.

I am grateful to them.

And I am honored to be here to represent them.

I respectfully ask for your support for the President’s FY 2025 budget request so that we can continue our work on behalf of the American people.

Updated April 17, 2024