Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Opening Statement Before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Remarks as Delivered
Thank you, Senator. Before I begin, I do want to express my condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims in Nashville for this horrific school shooting. I also want to express my condolences specifically to Senator Hagerty, who is on this Subcommittee, and I know flew back to Nashville to be with the community at the time. We have both ATF and FBI resources working hand-in-hand with the state and local police right now, and they will continue to do so as long as is necessary. And the Justice Department will do everything that we have within our power to try to prevent these kinds of really horrific shootings.
With that said, I want to thank the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee for the opportunity to speak with you today. This is for our funding request for Fiscal Year 2024.
Every day, the Justice Department works to keep our country safe from all threats, foreign and domestic.
We work to protect the civil rights of everyone in the country.
And every day, in everything we do, we work to uphold the rule of law that is the foundation of our system of government.
The Justice Department’s budget request seeks the resources we need to continue and to build on that work.
To help keep our country safe, we are asking for more than $21.3 billion to sustain and expand the capacities of the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, and of our 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.
These resources will help protect communities across the country. They will strengthen our efforts to counter threats posed by hostile nation-states – specifically the governments of the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. They will enable us to counter foreign and domestic terrorism. And they will sustain and expand our whole-of-Department approach to combating violent crime, the epidemic of gun violence, and the scourge of drug trafficking.
The Department is also seeking $2.7 billion for our Office of Community Oriented Policing Services – our COPS Office – Hiring Program. This funding will enable us to help our state and local law enforcement agency partners hire more full-time law enforcement professionals.
As part of our efforts to disrupt drug trafficking, our budget requests $3.3 billion for DEA’s investigations, diversion control, and counterdrug efforts across 241 domestic offices and 92 offices in 69 countries around the world.
The Department is focused on getting fentanyl out of our communities and combating the violent cartels that are putting it there. Just last week, DEA issued an alert warning about the emerging threat posed by the deadly combination of fentanyl and xylazine, which increases the risk of fatal drug poisoning.
We also know that addressing the proliferation of deadly drugs requires more than just enforcement actions. So, we are requesting more than $646 million for grants to help address the drug overdose epidemic and the public health challenges of addiction and drug use.
The Department’s budget also requests significant investments in our efforts to combat economic crimes; protect the health, safety, and financial security of American consumers; and safeguard competition.
This includes a $770 million request for our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to pursue investigations and prosecutions of complex economic crimes. These include COVID-19 pandemic fraud schemes that have exploited the pandemic and stolen millions of taxpayer dollars.
Protecting civil rights was a founding purpose of the Justice Department in 1870, and it remains our urgent charge today.
The Department’s budget requests significant investments to advance that work. This includes our efforts to protect voting rights, combat hate crimes, foster trust and accountability in law enforcement, defend federally protected reproductive rights, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis.
Specifically, we are requesting a total of $251.6 million for the Civil Rights Division – an increase of more than 32% – to carry out its important mission. We are also requesting $127.6 million to support the FBI’s investigations of civil rights violations.
Administering just and efficient immigration court and correctional systems is another important area of Departmental focus for which we are requesting additional resources.
We are requesting $1.46 billion – a 69.2% increase – for the Executive Office for Immigration Review to hire nearly 1,000 new staff. This includes 150 new immigration judges. These resources will support our efforts to apply the immigration laws justly and efficiently.
We are also seeking $8.82 billion in funding for the Bureau of Prisons. These resources will help ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of correctional staff and incarcerated individuals. They will help ensure transparency, accountability, and effective oversight of all federal prisons and detention centers. And they will enable the Department to fully implement the provisions of the First Step Act and increase programming to prepare individuals in federal prisons for successful reentry.
I am extremely proud of the work the Department’s employees are doing to uphold the rule of law, to keep our country safe, and to protect civil rights. I respectfully ask for your support for the President’s FY 2024 budget request so that we may continue and build upon that request.