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

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

Good afternoon, Chairman Cartwright, Ranking Member Aderholt, and distinguished Members of this subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

Before I address the details of our Fiscal Year 2023 request, I would like to say a word about the President’s supplemental budget request with respect to Ukraine.

The Justice Department is currently putting all available resources to use to hold accountable individuals whose criminal actions are enabling Russia’s unjust war against Ukraine.

In March, we launched the KleptoCapture Task Force. Since then, the Task Force has been hard at work with our international partners to enforce sanctions violations, dismantle Russian criminal networks, and freeze, seize, and forfeit kleptocrat assets.

The proposals the President announced today will give the Justice Department critical resources and tools to continue and strengthen this work.

Among other things, they would enable us to transfer the proceeds of forfeited Russian assets directly to Ukraine to remedy the harms of Russia’s aggression. They would close loopholes in our sanctions and forfeiture law. And they would allow us to help the people of Ukraine in their most dire hour.

We have all seen the heartbreaking images coming out of Ukraine and we have all read the accounts of Russia’s brutality.

We urge Congress to quickly consider this request. The Justice Department stands ready to provide the Committee with additional details and assistance as you consider the administration’s supplemental request.

With that, I will turn to the primary subject of today’s hearing: the Justice Department’s FY23 budget request.

Over the 413 days that I have served as 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 request.

Our first request, and 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 accountability to the American people.

To these ends, the President’s FY23 Budget requests more than $20.2 billion to support the work of DOJ’s law enforcement components and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices 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 that you are sitting in today – from violent attack.

In FY23 alone, the President’s Budget also requests more than $8 billion in grants for states and localities nationwide to fund the police, including by funding more police officers for the beat, and by implementing 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 our antitrust enforcement and consumer protection;
  • to combat corporate crime;
  • and 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 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 of $8.18 billion for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will help ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing for the more than 150,000 individuals in federal custody. 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 for confinement.

I respectfully ask for your support for our budget requests as the Justice Department works to uphold the rule of law, keep our country safe, and protect everyone’s civil rights.

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