Katko Opening Statement in Full Committee Markup

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, delivered the following opening statement in today’s full Committee markup.

Ranking Member Katko’s Opening Statement (as prepared for delivery)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am glad we are having this markup today, but my thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York last weekend. This tragic attack has shocked and saddened us all. I thank the brave first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to take the suspect into custody and protect their community from further violence.

I remain committed to working with you, Mr. Chairman, and all our colleagues on this Committee to support federal, state, and local law enforcement as they seek justice for the victims and the community.

Turning to our duties in this markup, I am proud of the measures put forward by my Republican colleagues today.

I am pleased to speak on behalf of my friend and colleague, Rep. David Joyce, for his work to address the important issue of protecting our frontline Customs and Border Protection personnel from the dangerous substances they encounter every day.

This is especially important as the situation at our southern border continues to worsen by the day under this administration.

H.R. 5274, the Prevent Exposure to Narcotics and Toxics (or PREVENT) Act requires the CBP Commissioner to issue containment devices, critical tools that provide protection against secondary exposure to fentanyl and other chemical substances, to all CBP frontline personnel.
In 2019, the DHS Office of the Inspector General issued a report concluding that CBP officers were at great risk of secondary exposure while handling illicit drugs, due to inadequate protection.

Every day, CBP officers work in challenging and dangerous environments to safeguard our borders; and in the course of their duties, they risk exposure through inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, and contact with needles. So far this year, CBP has seized 6,601 pounds of fentanyl alone. This has only increased the threat of secondary exposure posed to frontline agents.
We must do all that we can in Congress to protect our law enforcement and first responders from secondary exposure to these deadly drugs. This legislation, introduced last year, has bipartisan support including many members on this Committee.

I strongly encourage all members to support this bill and protect our frontline CBP personnel.
I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record a statement on H.R. 5274 by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joyce.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I also thank Rep. Pfluger for his efforts to dismantle the Chinese government’s influence in our homeland. H.R. 7779, the DHS Restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Entities of Concern Act is a necessary and commonsense bill that seeks to mitigate the risk posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to our institutions of higher education.

Confucius Institutes are strategic organizations for the CCP, which masquerade as mutually beneficial sources of learning but whose undue influence at American universities pose a grave danger.

They enable the CCP to access the research and intellectual pursuits of these institutions and enable the theft of that information for the benefit of China, accelerating their attempts to usurp the United States as a leader in dozens of economic sectors and commercial markets.
H.R. 7779 would ensure that no DHS Science and Technology (S&T) or research and development (R&D) funding goes to American universities that continue to maintain relationships with these clandestine Chinese entities.

We must prevent Chinese encroachment on our intellectual freedom and by extension, protect our country’s academic integrity and achievements. Congress has already taken important steps to similarly prohibit Department of Defense funding for universities that continue to host Confucius Institutes, and it is now our turn to take action on DHS funding.

Congress must ensure that taxpayer dollars are not going to entities that embolden our foremost adversary and undermine our national security. I therefore encourage all my colleagues to support this commonsense but important legislation.

Thank you again for holding this markup, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

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