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2002 Ron Paul 80:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, the move to create a federal Department of Homeland Security was initiated in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and subsequent revelations regarding bureaucratic bungling and ineptness related to those attacks. Leaving aside other policy initiatives that may be more successful in reducing the threat of future terror attacks, I believe the President was wellintentioned in suggesting that a streamlining of functions might be helpful.
2002 Ron Paul 80:2
Mr. Speaker, as many commentators have pointed out, the creation of this new department represents the largest reorganization of federal agencies since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. Unfortunately, the process by which we are creating this new department bears little resemblance to the process by which the Defense Department was created. Congress began hearings on the proposed department of defense in 1945 — two years before President Truman signed legislation creating the new Department into law! Despite the lengthy deliberative process through which Congress created the new department, turf battles and logistical problems continued to bedeviled the military establishment, requiring several corrective pieces of legislation. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Goldwater-Nicholas Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 (PL 99–433) was passed to deal with problems stemming from the 1947 law! The experience with the Department of Defense certainly suggests the importance of a more deliberative process in the creation of this new agency.
2002 Ron Paul 80:3
This current proposed legislation suggest that merging 22 government agencies and departments — compromising nearly 200,000 federal employees — into one department will address our current vulnerabilities. I do not see how this can be the case. If we are presently under terrorist threat, it seems to me that turning 22 agencies upside down, sparking scores of turf wars and creating massive logistical and technological headaches — does anyone really believe that even simple things like computer and telephone networks will be up and running in the short term? — is hardly the way to maintain the readiness and focus necessary to defend the United States. What about vulnerabilities while Americans wait for this massive new bureaucracy to begin functioning as a whole even to the levels at which its component parts were functioning before this legislation was taken up? Is this a risk we can afford to take? Also, isnt it a bit ironic that in the name of homeland security we seem to be consolidating everything except the government agencies most critical to the defense of the United States: the multitude of intelligence agencies that make up the Intelligence Community?
2002 Ron Paul 80:4
Mr. Speaker, I come from a Coastal District in Texas. The Coast Guard and its mission are important to us. The chairman of the committee of jurisdiction over the Coast Guard has expressed strong reservations about the plan to move the Coast Guard into the new department. Recently my district was hit by the flooding in Texas, and we relied upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to again provide certain services. Additionally, as a district close to our border, much of the casework performed in my district offices relates to requests made to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
2002 Ron Paul 80:5
There has beem a difference of opinion between committees of jurisdiction and the administration in regard to all these functions. In fact, the Presidents proposal was amended in no fewer than a half dozen of the dozen committees to which it was originally referred.
2002 Ron Paul 80:6
My coastal district also relies heavily on shipping. Our ports are essential for international trade and commerce. Last year, over one million tons of goods was moved through just one of the Ports in my district! However, questions remain about how the mission of the Customs Service will be changed by this new department. These are significant issues to my constituents, and may well affect their very livelihoods. For me to vote for this bill would amount to giving my personal assurance that the creation of this new department will not adversely impact the fashion in which the Coast Guard and Customs Service provide the services which my constituents have come to rely upon. Based on the expedited process we have followed with this legislation, I do not believe I can give such as assurance.
2002 Ron Paul 80:7
We have also received a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate suggesting that it will cost no less than $3 billion just to implement this new department. That is $3 billion dollars that could be spent to capture those responsible for the attacks of September 11 or to provide tax-relief to the families of the victims of that attack. It is three billion dollars that could perhaps be better spent protecting against future attacks, or even simply to meet the fiscal needs of our government. Since those attacks this Congress has gone on a massive spending spree. Spending three billion additional dollars now, simply to rearrange offices and command structures, is not a wise move. In fact, Congress is actually jeopardizing the security of millions of Americans by raiding the social security trust fund to rearrange deck chairs and give big spenders yet another department on which to lavish porkbarrel spending. The way the costs of this department have skyrocketed before the Department is even open for business leads me to fear that this will become yet another justification for Congress to raid the social security trust fund in order to finance pork-barrel spending. This is especially true in light of the fact that so many questions remain regarding the ultimate effect of these structural changes. Moreover, this legislation will give the Executive Branch the authority to spend money appropriated by Congress in ways Congress has not authorized. This clearly erodes Constitutionally- mandated Congressional prerogatives relative to control of federal spending.
2002 Ron Paul 80:8
Recently the House passed a bill allowing for the arming of pilots. This was necessary because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) simply ignored legislation we had passed previously. TSA is, of course, a key component of this new department. Do we really want to grant authority over appropriations to a Department containing an agency that has so brazenly ignored the will of Congress as recently as has the TSA? In fact, there has been a constant refusal of the bureaucracy to recognize that one of the best ways to enhance security is to legalize the second amendment and allow private property owners to defend their property. Instead, the security services are federalized.
2002 Ron Paul 80:9
The airlines are bailed out and given guaranteed insurance against all threats. We have made the airline industry a public utility that get to keep its profits and pass on its losses to the taxpayers, like Amtrak and the post office. Instead of more ownership responsibility, we get more government controls. I am reluctant, to say the least, to give any new powers to bureaucrats who refuse to recognize the vital role free citizens exercising their second amendment rights play in homeland security.
2002 Ron Paul 80:10
Mr. Speaker, government reorganizations, though generally seen as benign, can have a deleterious affect not just on the functioning of government but on our safety and liberty as well. The concentration and centralization of authority that may result from todays efforts should give us all reason for pause. But the current process does not allow for pause. Indeed, it militates toward rushing decisions without regard to consequence. Furthermore, this particular reorganization, in an attempt to provide broad leeway for the new department, undermines our Congressional oversight function. Abrogating our Constitutionally-mandated responsibilities so hastily now also means that future administrations will find it much easier to abuse the powers of this new department to violate constitutional liberties.
2002 Ron Paul 80:11
Perhaps a streamlined, reconfigured federal government with a more clearly defined and limited mission focused on protecting citizens and their freedoms could result from this reorganization, but right now it seems far more likely that the opposite will occur. That is why I must oppose creation of this new department.
2002 Ron Paul 80:12
Until we deal with the substance of the problem — serious issues of American foreign policy about which I have spoken out for years, and important concerns with our immigration policy in light of the current environment — attempts such as we undertake today at improved homeland security will amount to, more or less, rearranging deck chairs — or perhaps more accurately office chairs in various bureaucracies. Until we are prepared to have serious and frank discussions of policy this body will not improve the security of American citizens and their property. I stand ready to have that debate, but unfortunately this bill does nothing to begin the debate and nothing substantive to protect us. At best it will provide an illusion of security, and at worst these unanswered questions will be resolved by the realization that entities such as the Customs Service, Coast Guard and INS will be less effective, less efficient, more intrusive and mired in more bureaucratic red tape. Therefore, we should not pass this bill today.