Office of Public Affairs | Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Opening Statement Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Office of Public Affairs | Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Opening Statement Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Remarks as Delivered

Thank you, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Cartwright, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee for the opportunity to discuss the Justice Department’s funding request for Fiscal Year 2025.

Since I last appeared before you, the more than 115,000 public servants who make up the Justice Department have continued to work tirelessly to fulfill our mission: to keep our country safe, to protect civil rights, and to uphold the rule of law.

Over the past year, our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, law enforcement agents, and grantmaking experts have worked together with police and community partners across the country to help drive down violent crime.

We have zeroed in on the individuals and gangs responsible for the greatest violence; made critical investments in police departments to hire more officers; and dedicated resources to initiatives aimed at preventing and disrupting violence before it occurs.

We have gone after the cartels responsible for trafficking deadly fentanyl into our communities and brought their leaders to justice here in the United States.

We have prosecuted fraud, recovered funds stolen from American taxpayers, and challenged illegal monopolies that hurt consumers and workers.

We have worked to defend the reproductive freedoms that are protected by federal law, and to monitor laws and actions that infringe on those protections.

We have worked to combat a disturbing spike in threats of violence against those who serve the public — against judges, police officers, members of Congress, and even our own employees.

We have worked to aggressively investigate, prosecute, and disrupt the hate crimes that not only harm individuals, but strike fear across entire communities.

And in everything we do, we have worked to ensure the equal protection of law that is foundational to our democracy.

I am proud of the work we have done. And I am deeply proud of the way the Department’s public servants — from our agents to our attorneys to our administrative staff — have gone about their work. They have conducted themselves in a way that would make the American people proud.

But we recognize that we have so much more to do.

Our Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request reflects the difficult budget environment we are in, and the extremely difficult choices we have had to make because of it.

It also reflects the resources that we need, now more than ever, to continue our work.

When I became Attorney General three years ago, I knew that grappling with the violent crime that surged during the pandemic would be one of the greatest challenges we would face at the Justice Department.

I am glad to be able to report that last year, we saw a significant decrease in overall violent crime across the country compared to the previous year — including an over 13% decline in homicides. That is the largest one-year decline in homicides in [50] years.

And data indicates this decline is continuing — as the Wall Street Journal recently reported just this week, in the first three months this year, homicides dropped 20% across 133 cities compared to the same time period last year.

But, I want to be very clear: there is no acceptable level of violent crime. Too many communities are still struggling, and too many people are still scared. The hard-fought progress we saw last year can easily slip away. So, we must remain focused and vigilant.

To continue our efforts to drive down violent crime, and to help keep our country safe from a range of threats, we are seeking a total of $21 billion to support the efforts of the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, as well as the Criminal Division and the National Security Division.

We will use these resources to continue our fight against gun violence, to prosecute illegal gun traffickers and straw purchasers, and to invest in advanced technological tools like ballistics analysis, firearms tracing, gun intelligence centers, and local fusion cells.

We will also use these resources to strengthen our work to counter both foreign and domestic terrorism. As the FBI Director has testified, we are facing an increasing threat of foreign terrorism since October 7.

We will also use these resources to continue to counter the threats that the governments of Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea pose to our national security and our economic stability.

And we will use these resources to continue our efforts to dismantle the global fentanyl supply chain and to break apart the cartels responsible for flooding poison into our communities.

As we deploy our own prosecutorial and investigative resources, we also recognize that the Department’s partnerships have been and will continue to be some of the most powerful tools we have to battle violent crime.

That is why we are seeking investments in the Department’s three grantmaking components: the Office of Justice Programs, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office on Violence Against Women. They provide direct support to community and law enforcement partners through more than 200 grant programs.

Our budget requests more than $4.3 billion to support the public safety efforts of our state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement and community partners. Of that amount, we are requesting $2.5 billion for our COPS Hiring Program to support law enforcement agencies across the country in their efforts to hire full-time law enforcement professionals. And we are requesting $120.5 million as part of our new Violent Crime Reduction and Prevention Fund to fund 940 detectives at the state and local level.

As I have noted before, when the Justice Department was founded in 1870, one of its principal purposes was to protect civil rights. Today, protecting both the safety and the civil rights of everyone in this country remains our urgent obligation.

Our budget seeks $201.3 million for the Civil Rights Division to continue its essential work — including its efforts to deter and prosecute hate crimes; to ensure constitutional policing; to enforce federal laws prohibiting discrimination in all its forms; and to protect the right of all eligible citizens to vote and to have that vote counted.

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. Protecting that right also requires us to protect the citizens who we rely on to fairly administer voting.

Our democracy cannot function if the officials, workers, and volunteers who administer our elections have to fear for their lives just for doing their jobs. The Justice Department is aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who threaten election workers with violence. And we will continue to do so.

As I said, I am extremely proud of the work the Department’s employees are doing to advance the Department’s mission.

Every day, their work brings them face-to-face with some of our country’s greatest challenges.

Every day, many of them risk their lives to protect the public. I am grateful to them.

I respectfully ask for your support for the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request so that we can continue our work on behalf of the American people.

Official news published at https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-merrick-b-garland-delivers-opening-statement-appropriations-hearing

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