Lesko Opening Statement TSA and U.S. Coast Guard Budget Hearing

WASHINGTON –Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) today delivered the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing entitled, “Securing America’s Transportation and Maritime Systems:  A Review of the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Requests for the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I am pleased that the Subcommittee is meeting today to receive testimony from our distinguished panel on the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request for both the Transportation Security Administration and the United States Coast Guard.

I am pleased that this year’s $7.8 billion budget request for TSA supports robust deployment of new checkpoint technologies like Computed Tomography and Credential Authentication Technologies that will make the traveling public’s airport screening experience safer and more efficient. 

I am hopeful that the successful fielding of technologies like CT will mean that someday soon, Americans will be able to leave their liquids and laptops in their bags as they go through screening.

I am also pleased that this budget request finds efficiencies that will save the taxpayers money, including tens of millions of dollars saved through eliminating contract redundancies and reducing the size of headquarters.

We know that transportation remains a persistent target for terrorist groups, so it is critical that TSA continuously strives to be innovative and ahead of the curve on emerging threats. 

With a strong national economy leading to steady growth in passenger volume at U.S. airports, TSA’s mission is more important than ever.

Similarly, the United States Coast Guard has broad homeland security mission sets for migrant and drug interdiction, as well as port security, that are supported in this year’s $11.3 billion budget request.

As the only branch of the U.S. military that operates within the Department of Homeland Security, as well the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard’s uniqueness reflects the critical role it plays in protecting America’s maritime systems. 

Recently, Congress has appropriated funding to support new vessels, including the Polar Security Cutter and National Security Cutter programs, that will help achieve mission readiness and provide our servicemen and women better tools to protect the Homeland.

While much-needed attention remains focused on our Southwest Border, it is also important to remember the critical role the U.S. Coast Guard plays in protecting our communities by interdicting drugs and migrants attempting to cross into the United States via our maritime border. 

I’ve been told that sanctuary state and city laws in areas dependent upon a robust Coast Guard presence are inhibiting cooperation between state and local law enforcement and the Coast Guard.  This is concerning

Homeland Security necessitates close coordination and positive working relationships among Federal Law Enforcement and state and local partners. 

I am worried that the resource challenges that the Coast Guard already faces are only further amplified in situations like this, so I look forward to hearing the Commandant discuss the importance of state and local partnerships.

Again, I wish to thank Chairman Correa for holding this important hearing today, and I look forward to hearing the witnesses’ testimonies.  Thank you, and I yield back.

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Contact: Nicole Hager

202-226-8417

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