Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Opening Statement Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Remarks as Delivered
Over the past 411 days that I have been Attorney General, three co-equal priorities have guided the work of the Justice Department: keeping our country safe; protecting civil rights; and upholding the rule of law.
These priorities reflect the Justice Department’s mission, and our mission is reflected in the President’s FY23 Budget.
Our first funding priority is keeping our country safe from all threats, foreign and domestic – whether from hostile nation-states, terrorists, or common criminals.
As our country’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to supporting members of law enforcement at all levels of government as they work to protect our country, while also safeguarding civil liberties and ensuring our own accountability to the American people.
To these ends, the President’s FY23 Budget requests more than $20.2 billion to support the work of the Justice Department’s law enforcement components and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide as they carry out their complex mission sets.
These resources will strengthen the Justice Department’s efforts to reduce violent crime and gun violence; to counter the multitude of serious and evolving threats to our country from terrorists, cybercriminals, and hostile nation-states; to combat the violent drug trafficking networks that are fueling our nation’s overdose epidemic; and to protect our nation’s democratic institutions – including the one we sit in today – from violent attack.
In addition, the President has proposed a total of more than $30 billion in new investments over the next decade to support law enforcement by funding the police, preventing crime, and accelerating criminal justice reform.
In FY23 alone, the President’s Budget requests more than $8 billion in grants for states and localities nationwide to fund the police, including by putting more police officers on the beat, and to implement community-based strategies to prevent crime and gun violence.
The President’s FY23 Budget also prioritizes the protection of civil rights. We are seeking a 32% increase in funding for the Civil Rights Division, as well as additional resources for our U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service, and our Office for Access to Justice. Our civil rights work remains vital to safeguarding voting rights, prosecuting hate crimes, ensuring constitutional policing, and addressing unlawful discrimination.
Another area of departmental focus is safeguarding economic security, fairness, and opportunity. This is reflected in our request for resources to protect the American people from intellectual property crimes; to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement and consumer protection; to combat corporate crime; and to bring to justice those who seek to profit unlawfully from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, the Department requests a total of $273 million – an increase of 41.6% – for the Antitrust Division to carry out its critical mission of promoting competition in the American economy and protecting workers, consumers, and businesses alike.
Finally, we are requesting $11.7 billion to ensure the just administration of our nation’s immigration courts and federal correctional systems.
This includes $1.35 billion for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which I’ll be referring to as EOIR, to reduce the immigration court backlog by hiring more than 1,200 new staff, including approximately 200 immigration judge teams over the FY22 enacted level. Our request for $8.18 billion for the Bureau of Prisons will help ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of the more than 150,000 individuals in federal custody, as well as the officers who protect them.
This request would allow BOP to hire 1,300 new correctional officers and First Step Act staff and would be used to support rehabilitative programming and improve conditions of confinement.
I respectfully ask for your support for our budget as our Justice Department works to uphold the rule of law, to keep our country safe, and to protect civil rights for all.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.