Senate Appropriators Raise Warning Flags on Flat FY22 Homeland Security Dept. Budget
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today raised concerns that funding shifts within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could affect the ability of the U.S. Coast Guard and others agencies to complete their missions.
Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which conducted a hearing to review the DHS FY2022 budget request on Wednesday.
“The Homeland Security Department’s scramble to shift funding, resources, and personnel to try to get a grip on the crisis on the border is distressing,” Hyde-Smith said. “Assurances that resources will be dedicated toward those missions with the ‘greatest urgency and greatest priority’ will ring hollow if the administration draws from missions it doesn’t deem urgent or a priority.”
“I agree with my colleagues who believe the administration needs to give us a clear-eyed, realistic assessment of what fixing the mess at the border will cost. The administration, which will not admit there is a crisis on the border, isn’t giving us that now,” she said.
President Biden will submit his formal FY2022 budget request to Congress on Friday, May 28. In the initial budget outline released last month, President Biden will request $52.0 billion for DHS in FY2022, approximately equal to the enacted FY2021 budget.
At the hearing, Hyde-Smith questioned Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the current and future costs associated with the ongoing border crisis, citing her concerns that DHS agencies, like the U.S. Coast Guard, could be affected by the surge in illegal crossings and criminal activity on the border.
“With agencies under your purview stretched thin while combatting the border security crisis, I am concerned that other areas of focus may not receive the attention or resources necessary to safely complete missions and day-to-day operations. I’m sure we can agree on the strategic value of the United States Coast Guard and the importance of funding for vessels, aircraft, and equipment required for these men and women to carry out their domestic and national security missions,” Hyde-Smith said in addressing Mayorkas.
“With that in mind, what firm assurances will you provide this committee and the American people that the department will not take away or shift funding from the Coast Guard to pay for the unplanned and rising costs of the crisis at the southern border?” she asked.
In trying to reassure the Senator, Mayorkas said, “What we have is a very dynamic and evolving landscape and we address the urgencies that we confront as our mission dictates. I will not deprive the Coast Guard of addressing the greatest urgency and greatest priority as the mission requires. That commitment I make to you.”
Hyde-Smith has been consistently critical of the Biden administration’s border policies. She was part of a Senate delegation that traveled to South Texas in March to assess the problems arising after the President softened border security and immigration policies, and later pressured the administration to fix its flawed policies.