Statement on the Homeland Security Authorization Act

i thank the distinguished chairman and i TimeCode: 13:34:46.5 congratulate him for the great work he is doing. this is a critical bill that we consider today. and as he has pointed out, we have had a number of bills dealing with homeland security on the floor. i also want to thank the ranking member -- i said i also want to TimeCode: 13:35:10.7 thank the ranking member for his leadership both in this congress and in the past congress on this issue. mr. king: i thank the gentleman. TimeCode: 13:35:19.3 mr. hoyer: i think the american people have a great advantage having two people working on this issue, even though there are disagreements. he had the same problem that the chairman is having, and we are TimeCode: 13:35:34.3 trying to work those problems and i'm going to support the chairman's manager's amendment as he tries to work this. i want to thank the chairman of the homeland security security, chairman thompson, for his hard work on this very important authorization bill. TimeCode: 13:35:49.5 the highest duty of our government is to protect the american people, to secure our homeland and to defend our national security. unfortunately, since the horrific terrorists attacks on our nation on september 11, opened our eyes and exposed our vulnerabilities. TimeCode: 13:36:07.5 we have not done enough to protect our homeland. as tom kane, co-chair of the bipartisan 9/11 commission stated last august, and i quote, we're not protecting our own people in this country. the government is not doing its TimeCode: 13:36:25.1 job. yesterday's arrest of six men, who apparently were plotting to attacks and kill soldiers at fort dicks in new jersey is a stark reminder that we cannot and must not let down our guard, TimeCode: 13:36:40.9 that we must remain vigilant. this legislation, which i believe will receive strong bipartisan support, is a critical step in the right direction. among other things, this bill authorizes $39.8 billion for the department of homeland security TimeCode: 13:36:56.8 for fiscal year 2008, which is $2.1 billion in addition for our homeland security than was asked for by the president. it restores the president's 52% cut to the security grant programs, which helps first responders to present vept, TimeCode: 13:37:14.1 prepare for and respond to acts of terrorism. it restores the president's 55% cut in firefighter assistance grants. it restores the elimination of the local law enforcement terrorism prevention program and TimeCode: 13:37:29.2 restores the elimination of the safer, which is the staffing for adequate fire and emergency response program. i want to thank the chairman for doing that and congratulate him TimeCode: 13:37:40.4 on his leadership, because as the ranking member pointed out, this bill was reported out unanimously. it was a joint effort, and a very important one at that. this legislation contains strong accountability measures aimed at strengthening and streamlining TimeCode: 13:37:54.9 management of the department of homeland security, which has struggled with its management challenges. and it includes provisions to improve information-sharing to enhance bioterrorism preparedness and eliminate the department's authority to TimeCode: 13:38:10.4 establish its own personnel management system. mr. speaker, ever since the department of homeland security was created, an effort which i opposed, because i thought it would create a department too large and too diverse to manage well. TimeCode: 13:38:25.7 my concerns have been evidenced. it is the challenge of this committee now that we have created the department, to ensure, that, in fact, it at in an efficient to protect our homeland. i have been concerned about the efficacy of consolidating TimeCode: 13:38:44.4 agencies and people in one department. since the congress chose to create this new department, it is our duty as i said to ensure that it has the resources it needs to do its jobs as effectively as possible and make TimeCode: 13:38:59.1 sure the department is well managed. this legislation, mr. speaker, by focusing on oversight and management is a critical response to the issues and problems that have been encountered at the department since its creation. i want to congratulate mr. thompson, who is doing such an TimeCode: 13:39:14.8 excellent job of leading this committee, and mr. king, who brings a focus for the country as opposed to a partisan focus to this work with mr. thompson. i want to congratulate them both and yield back the balance of my time.