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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 17, 2015 9:00pm-12:01am EST

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kits. and a backlog reduction program and my district were able to receive $45 million. and robust funding for both commercial and c.l.s. and owe ryon. we're able to provide healthy funding for science and exploration missions and i hope the mission will be able to include the expertise of all nasa centers. happily, we restored earth and geoscience funding and removed e language and i'll continue to work the limitations on n.s.a. in the future. finally, many of the harmful immigration riders were removed, including ones that would have stripped the administration's ability to defend daca and dapa and . thheld d.o.j. grants
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-- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. honda: 15 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentlelady yield 15 seconds? the gentleman is recognized. mr. honda: the c.j.s. portion of the omnibus bill will invest in our nation's future and move us forward. i want to thank, again, to my chairman culberson and i look forward to continue to work with you closely and yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. rogers: mr. speaker, i yield 30 seconds to the distinguished chairman of the permanent select committee on intelligence, mr. nunes of california. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from the central valley of california is recognized. mr. nunes: i ask unanimous consent that my full statement is included including condition n. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. nunes: i want to thank hairman schiff, vice chair
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feinstein, chair hal rogers and ranking member lowey as well as the hard work in getting this important legislation to the floor today and eventually to the president for his signature. i urge all members to support the bill. with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentlelady from new york is recognized. mrs. lowey: mr. speaker, i'm very pleased to yield two minutes to the distinguished the gentlelady from minnesota -- gent the dl lady from minnesota, ms. mccollum. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from minnesota is recognized. ms. mccollum: thank you. mr. speaker, i rise in support of this omnibus appropriations agreement. this agreement reflects a truly bipartisan compromise that fills congress' most basic responsibility, to fund the operations of the federal government. as the ranking member of interior, environment and appropriations subcommittee, i am thrilled to be supporting our subcommittee's section of the bill. i want to remind everyone that in july, our bill died on the floor. it was underfunded and it was
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loaded with bipartisan -- loaded with partisan riders that harmed the environment and failed to meet the needs of the american people. this is not a perfect bill, but it is a remarkable improvement. this bill provides critical resources to important programs, ranging from clean air and water, natural resources, native americans and the arts. and for the first time in five years, the environmental protection agency is not being cut. the agreement provides $93 million support to the national park service programs and funds the national parks centennial. democrats and republicans are equally committed to fund native american programs which received an increase of 5% over 2015. important increases for education, health and tribal government programs. the land and water conservation fund is re-authorized for three years and funded at $450 million, the highest level funding since 2010.
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and the national endowment for the arts and humanities are funded at the president's request, which is terrific. the real victory is here for the american people is that this agreement removes policy riders that were bad for the environment, bad for our air and our water and bad for our families. those riders are gone from this bill and that is a victory. i want to thank chairman calvert for a very positive working relationship this year, and i appreciate the courtesy and the respect you and the republican staff has shown me and my staff. the democratic appropriations staff worked incredibly hard to protect our priorities in this bill. i thank you and i urge support. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. rogers: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to the distinguished chairman of the agriculture committee, mr. conaway of texas. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. conaway: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank the chairman and chairman aderholt for the
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consideration they gave. they were kind in that consideration. we certainly appreciate that. mr. speaker, we heard reasons why to vote for this bill. defense spending, lifting the ban on crude oil. let me add one other aspect and that's the repeal of the country of origin labeling requirements that are currently in law. by repealing this, we help american producers avoid almost a -- excess of $1 billion of retaliatory measures that mexico and canada are spring loaded to begin applying against american production. this repeal avoids that. mr. speaker, in my view this adds additional weight why i'm supporting this bill. i ask they look at the defense spending, crude oil ban and repealing of coal as reason why to support this bill and move it to the senate and the president's desk. i ask my colleagues to support this, as i am. thank you for consideration during this process. we appreciate being part of the work and look forward to supporting it and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentlelady from new york is recognized. mrs. lowey: mr. speaker, i am very pleased to yield one
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minute to -- two minutes -- maybe three minutes -- to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. fattah, a senior member of the appropriations committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for two minutes. mr. fattah: i thank the gentlelady and i thank our chairman rogers and the work of the staff. i think we have a bill here that the house can fully embrace. it is -- the point i want to make is that we have in this bill a measure, spending, programs that will help americans on the health side, on education, on housing. i particularly want to indicate how pleased i am we were able to increase very significantly our investments in brain science and brain research. we were able to almost double the president's request in youth mentoring. there are areas, everything
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from commercial crew to efforts to combat drug addiction that would commend this bill for favorable support here in this house, and i want to thank the committee for all of its great work. i want to particularly thank my staff for the work they've done, and we'll have a chance to indicate as we go forward after the holidays some of the particulars, but i will single out one right here right now. there was a young officer, police officer who was in a gun battle in my district trying to protect life and property. our commissioner said it was the most courageous act he ever saw of a police officer. in this bill today, we name a program in the department of justice, a program focused on lessening violence against police officers after this young officer, robert wilson. it's not a -- an effort in which we want to just think about money, and i think that the chairman and the ranking member, i thank them for their
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cooperation in this effort because i think it in symbol and in substance says to those who protect our communities that we indeed care about them and we understand the dangers that they face. so i thank you and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. rogers: i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentlelady from new york is recognized. -- mr. y: mr. speaker speaker, may i ask how much time is remaining? the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from new york has 4 1/2 minutes, and the gentleman from kentucky has four minutes. mrs. lowey: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. as we close this debate, i want to extend my appreciation, again, to chairman rogers and his staff and my abled staff
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and my chairman, kay greaninger. it's really been a -- kay granger. it's really been a pleasure to produce this bill. as we close this session, i just want to reiterate the message, mr. chairman, which you've been sharing with us in committee and here on the floor of the house, it's time for regular order. we should deal with each of the 12 bills independently, bring -- to the floor to a vote bring them to the floor to a vote. although there has been a lot of negotiation and a lot of compromise working on this omnibus bill, and i'm very proud of the product that we produced. whether it is funding the national institutes of health or education or head start or king care of our veterans or
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in this very, very difficult time where we have challenges i over the world -- understand the next speaker we're waiting for is not arriving. so as i close my comments and tell you what it is a pleasure to work with you and to complete this bill, which i know, i know will have an important impact on our families, our veterans and all those who serve in the military th such distinction and -- mr. rogers: will the gentlelady yield? mrs. lowey: i reserve my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady reserves. mr. rogers: if the gentlelady will yield. if you're waiting for another speaker, i would be happy to introduce another on this side. mrs. lowey: i would be
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delighted to have you introduce the distinguished gentleman from your side, a member of the rules committee, a member of the appropriations committee, a friend, and i look forward to his remarks. happy to yield. mr. rogers: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to the distinguished chairman of the labor-hhs subcommittee on our appropriations committee, the gentleman from oklahoma, mr. cole. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from oklahoma is recognized. mr. cole: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding. frankly, i want to, number one, tell you how pleased i am with the portion of the bill that we were able to work with. my friend, the distinguished lady from connecticut, and i worked together. our members worked hard. we're exceptionally pleased to begin to reinvest again at the national institutes of health to put $350 million for additional research in alzheimer's, to put over half a billion dollars for additional early childhood education, to send back to the states,
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frankly, over $400 million for idea, to help school districts deal with children with special needs. we were exceptionally pleased to be able to preserve impact aid, something that the president had significantly reduced. but in saying that, i want to say we had a good working relationship with the administration. so this is a good product. this actually serves some really important purposes. i feel like we worked today in a bipartisan way to prioritize things that mattered to all of us, and certainly that mattered much -- very deeply to the american people. i want to, again, close by thanking my good friend from connecticut, ms. delauro, for working with us. i want to particularly thank my friend, the ranking member, who worked very hard. and i'm especially proud of my chairman, mr. rogers from kentucky, because i think he not only produced a very good
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product under very difficult circumstances, he's also brought us closer to restoring full regular order, which i know is his aim. last people to thank, of course, are the people to make it all possible. we had just a brilliant staff effort. hardworking, dedicated, thoroughly professional and frankly bipartisan. i want to thank each and every one of them. i would be remiss not to single out, if i may, mr. chairman, my own chief clerk, susan ross, who i thought did an exceptional job and to thank will smith, our chief clerk of the committee for his extraordinary job. with that, again, i would urge passage of the bill. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentlelady from new york is recognized. mrs. lowey: may i ask how much time is remaining? the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady has 2 1/2 minutes. mrs. lowey: well, it is a pleasure for me to yield 2 1/2 minutes to the distinguished whip, the distinguished gentleman from maryland, mr. hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized. mr. hoyer: i thank chairwoman
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lowey and chairman rogers for their leadership on this bill. mr. speaker, there's no such thing as a perfect bill. there are a number of things about this bill that i would change, and to that extent i'm probably like everybody else in that house when i opposed when they were brought them on their n, including the banff crude oil. puerto rico to restructure its debt at no cost to the taxpayer, which is a resource that they want to prevent real harm to our citizens living on the island. the speaker has indicated a willingness to work across the aisle early next year. we must do so. but this omnibus represents a compromise that will revert a government shutdown and continue our investment in national security, education, housing, public health,
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innovation, environmental protection and maintaining justice. no one is going to get everything they want or prevent everything they oppose from being included. . businesses and workers need certainty certainty that our government remines opened. i'm glad the most egregious partisan policy riders were removed from this bill. i congratulate mr. rogers and mrs. lowey for that accomplishment. i believe we can do better. especially when it comes to making investments in areas that grow our economy such as infrastructure, research, and innovation, higher education, and work force development. but i will in -- i will support this omnibus and i urge my colleagues to support this omnibus because we must not let the perfect stand in the way of the practical and the appropriate. it is our responsibility, not to kick the can down the road with taining resolution, but to pass
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commonsense appropriations that avert the dangers to our economy that stem from a shutdown. his bill achieves those goals. and i hope we can move into the new year with a renewed sense of what we ought to do together to invest in a stronger future for america. i urge my colleagues to vote yes on this omnibus bill. thank mr. rogers and mrs. lowey for their leadership and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. does the gentlelady have time? the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. mr. rogers: i yield myself the balance of the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. rogers: mr. speaker, we would not be here without the work of this great staff that we have mentioned time and again today. these people work tireless hours
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all night. they have had one day off since before thanksgiving and that was thanksgiving day itself. i want to say a word of thanks again to the great staff led by the chief clerk, will smith, thank you, will, for the great job. and jim, your deputy, and all the other staff on both sides of the aisle. thank you, so much, david, for your great work. mr. speaker, we should not be here under these circumstances. we should not be here dealing with a bill that funds the entire government in one package. this so-called omnibus appropriations bill. we are supposed to pass 12 separate bills. bring them to the floor separately and conference with the senate separately. we were on track to do that. we got the earliest start in our history this year. and yet the senate refused to allow any of the bills we sent over to the brought to the floor. forcing us into this omnibus.
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next year i hope it's different. i hope the senate will bring these bills to their floor. so we can separate them into 12 different packages, conference them, debate therges amend them, and pass them in regular order. in the meantime, this is our only choice to keep the government open and that is to pass this omnibus appropriations bill. i want to thank all the members of my committee, all the chairmen of the subcommittees, all the ranking members on the other side, all of the staff on the subcommittee level who have worked time and again night after night on putting together this extremely large and complex appropriations bill and added to it several other authorizing pieces of legislation that were tacked on to this bill. nevertheless it is a good bill. there's things i wish i could have gotten if the bill that we were unable to.
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and i'm sure my counterpart, mrs. lowey, has the same feeling. but this is the best we can do. >> g.k. butterfield announced prepared --as not dana did not reach priorities. and provisions for puerto rico. caucus members talked about the opposition to the measure for about 45 minutes. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, mr. speaker. if a funding bill is a reflection of priorities, then the omnibus we are considering right now is the clearest snapshot of what's wrong with our nation. we're talking about lifting a 40-year ban on the export of
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crude oil, risking thousands of jobs, and rising gas prices for working families. immediately after joining the most important climate agreement ever created. we're expected to swallow tiny increases to the program's work -- to the programs working families need and rely on while we make permanent tax cuts for corporations and millionaires that we have not paid for. we're expected to cheer the extension of vital programs like think child tax credit when that credit has not been indexed to cover the rising costs families face. mr. speaker, these are gains and after only a year in congress, i am tired of playing -- these are games and after only a year in congress i am tired of playing
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them. we like the word compromise, it implies we've done something good, that we've worked together. if we pass this bill, we will have worked together to keep america down for generations to come. we're patting ourselveses on the back for making it out of sequester. but the incremental spending increases in this omnibus funding package donology to make up for the past five years of cuts. we have spent so much, so much time digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a funding hole that this omnibus seems like level ground. the fact is, it's not. it's far from it. regardless of how nice funding increases may sound, the foundations of the american dream are crumbling beneath our feet. right now, with stagnant wages, struggling schools, and a wealth
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gap that is only getting bigger. working families need funding that supports their needs. they need a tax code that promotes the middle class. they need tax credits and funding for programs to help cover the outrageous costs of child care and preschool education. costs that outstrip tuition at public colleges in 31 of our 50 states. they need funding for higher education that would allow them to graduate without debt. they need more support for our highways, our bridges, our rail systems, and broader infrastructure, the kind of projects that create good-paying jobs and make every community stronger.
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the kind of projects that cause people to feel confident that they have enough security in their future and enough money in their pocket to spend some of it and help stimulate the economy and to create many, many, many ancillary jobs and small business needs. they need a lot more than what's being offered in this legislation. a funding bill compromise should not compromise the needs of families across the country -- across the country who are relying on us to get this right, and any extension of tax credit needs to be protected and uplift every american. we can't afford to pass them without a plan for them. labored r, we have
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ver many things in this house. we have spent a long time talking about less important issues. we are being confronted right now with a humongous bill that has broad implications on communities that are vulnerable for the next several generations and we are asked to support a piece of legislation that does t seem to address from a proportionally equal perfect i, those needs. i want to take a moment now to just draw the house's attention to this front page story in politico. it headlines, congress' half trillion dollar spending bing. what's fascinating -- binge. what's fascinating about this is that my colleagues on the other
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side of the aisle, the folks res on -- the folks responsible for this spending bin -- binge, are always the first to condemn government spending. now they want to spend billions of dollars on special interests, without supporting pell grants, without supporting our historically black colleges and universities, without supporting the programs that combat 306rity, like w.i.c. without supporting the working families in this country and supporting the needs that they had in order to prosper. their prosperity helps guarantee the economy's prosperity because the revenues generated from the things that we do toup lift our working families, that revenue gets put back into the economy and creates a better, fairer, and larger economy. the numbers in this omnibus lie.
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they sound like increases but they do nothing to pull us out of the rut that the past five years have left us in. i know that there are many of my colleagues who feel the same way. we look at the modest increases that may be associated with child care tax credit. we look at modest increases that may be applied to a housing program. we look at modest increases that may be applied to several programs that, if there were sufficient revenues associated with those programs, would indeed make a difference in these communities. but the proportion a -- proportionality of priority in this omnibus bill and in our efforts today and tomorrow does not speak to our acknowledgment that it is the majority of people, that it is the middle class, the working class, and
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yes, even the most vulnerable that we are leaving behind. we can do better than that. mechanic, we need to do better than that. because we are better than that. there are several there are some glaring omissions in the omnibus bill. is unfathomable that we are unwilling to support a u.s. territory in a financial meltdown just as we offer permanent tax breaks for corporations and special interests who don't even need our help. we are leaving the citizens of puerto rico woefully in need. this is not fair. this is un-american and this isn't who we are. what is our responsibility to the citizens of puerto rico, who won't have good access to
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hospitals, medicare. what about the children, almost 56% who live in poverty, what are we saying to them? what we are saying in this bill that is before us, this day, coming forth, that is expected to move forward in this house is that we are still only concerned with elevating the status, the well-being, the security and the happiness of those that already have a lion's share of all of it. mr. speaker, we are better than that. we have a responsibility to speak up, protect, preserve and ensure opportunity for all. that is what we have been elected to do. i want to take a moment to talk about the give-away to oil
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companies that we have in this omnibus. there's nothing positive about this for working families. ending the 40-year ban on crude oil risks our energy security here at home. it threatens our environmental leadership and it takes away jobs from american workers. we didn't pass legislation to create more access to oil in this country simply to be able to provide wealthy companies the opportunity to sell it abroad at higher price to bypass our refineries, to sell crude oil to other countries and have them benefit from the jobs that we fought to create in the legislation that we passed. that's illogical. that's contraintuitive for what we did in the first place.
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yet, it is in this bill. and yet, the glaring priority of the wealthy multinational corporations versus the interests of the every day working families is just in your face. unacceptable, totally unacceptable. it serves no purpose that i can identify other than to further appease another of the special interest groups so dear to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. but it does nothing for the economy of the united states of america and for the working families here. but i guess i shouldn't be surprised, because it's not the first time and i doubt it will be the last time. and mr. speaker, we can go and on and on, and i will have additional points that i would
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like to raise with regard to this omnibus bill. but my friend, my colleague from the great state of new york, congressman jeffries, has come here to share his perspective on the impact of this omnibus bill. and with that, i would like to yield to my colleague. mr. jeffries: i thank my colleague from the great state of new jersey for your tremendous leadership throughout the course of this year as it relates to presiding over the congressional progressive caucus' special order hour where week after week, you have been able to illuminate to the american people some of the challenges that we face here trying to enact policies that make sense for hardworking americans, low-income folks, middle class, for seniors, for the most vulnerable amongst us.
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just a moment i wanted to reflect on one particular aspect of the omnibus bill that i find troubling, and that is the failure to do what is necessary to help put the people of puerto rico, united states' citizens on a trajectory that will allow them to achieve some manner of economic stability moving forward. now i never practiced criminal law. i am a lawyer, but i understand there are sometimes crimes of commission, where you affirmatively do something that is damaging and crimes of omission. the greatest omission as it elates to this one -- $1.1 trillion spending bill is the failure to do anything to help deal with the economic crisis that exists right now in puerto rico. a crisis, by the way, that in
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large measure has responsibility right here in the united states of -- congress. 1996 we began a 10-year phaseout in provisions in the tax law that were put in place in order to help the economy of puerto rico. that 10-year phaseout ended in 2006. and over that period, it witnessed a dramatic disinvestment of corporate entities from the island of the mainland ward and other places. a massive number of jobs were lost. that phaseout was completed in 2006. puerto rico has been in a deep ecession ever since. every other citizen of the united states of america who lives in the 50 states here,
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lives in a municipality that has bankruptcy provisions available to it to help it restructure its debt when necessary. people of puerto rico, again as a result of a law enacted here in this chamber in 1984, have been denied bankruptcy protection. and fundamentally all the people of puerto rico were asking for is to make sure that those citizens who live on the island can be put in the same place, not better, the same place as every other united states citizen. so they can avail themselves of bankruptcy protection to enable them to restructure their debt in a way that makes sense that allows them to pay their teachers, their police officers,
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firefighters and others. and yet with all that was done, all the acts of cow mission with agreement, ion-plus we couldn't help the people of puerto rico by simply putting them in the same place to restructuring provisions in a manner that would give them the opportunity without a single cent of taxpayer expense to be in a better place? people of puerto rico participate in the military, die in foreign conflicts of the united states of america at a rate higher than those in the 50 states, yet they're compensated from a medicaid reimbursement andpoint around 40% or 50%
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less. we don't have time to go through how policy set here in the united states congress has devastated the people of puerto rico economically for the last few decades. but it does seem to me we can find some way to deal with this issue. we found a way to give away billions and billions of dollars to big oil companies as it relates to lifting the prohibition on the export of crude oil. but we couldn't find a way to help the hardworking people of puerto rico. shame on us here in the united states congress. now lastly, it's my understanding that the speaker who i take to be a man of his word, said we are going to deal
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with this issue in the next 90 days. here's the problem. on january 1, there's a significant amount of money that puerto rico owes that it cannot pay. and so the island can't wait until march 31 for the congress to try to work this out. the promissory note is not good enough. and as an african-american member of congress i'm reminded of a speech that dr. king gave in 1963 right outside these halls on the national mall. he talked about the fact that the magnificent words of the constitution and declaration of independence was a glorious promissory note. we hold these truths torn self-evident and all men are created equal endowed by their creator the ability to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of
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happiness. but that century after century and decade after decade, that promise other note was handed over to the african-american community as a stamp, insufficient funds. i can't with any degree of confidence suggest that we can credibly say to the people of puerto rico and to those individuals of puerto rican december ept that i represent back home in brooklyn and queens that this so-called promissory note issued is going to take any action 90-plus days. i hope there is a measure of resolution before we ultimately vote on this omnibus bill to deal in good faith with the people of puerto rico, united states citizens, who deserve our
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attention. and i yield back. and i thank the distinguished gentlelady for this time. mrs. watson coleman: will my colleague yield for a question? you spoke about the impact of the omission of puerto rico in the omnibus bill and what it does to the territory of puerto rico and the citizens that are there. my colleague has spoken eloquently as to the proportionality question in this omnibus bill in general that would not only negatively impact puerto rico, but puerto rican and other citizens here in the united states of america. whole communities, working-class families. and would my colleague just use a little bit of his time to talk about that issue of fairness and proportionality that i heard you so eloquently speak. mr. jeffries: thank you. the big question that we face here earlier today, we voted on
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600-plusender package, billion dollars. none of it was paid for at least as it relates to what was done today. but i think reasonable people understand that because making a se tax breaks permanent in way where they were not paid for ultimately is going to blow a tremendous hole in the deficit and that as we move forward, the people who will pay for the tax cuts that were passed out of this house earlier today -- hundreds of billions of dollars, notwithstanding the earned income tax credit and the child care tax credit that of course many of us support, the people who will pay for it will be the poor, the sick, the afflicted, working families, those who need
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assistance and so in good conditions there is no way i could support the tax extender package and go back home and say we just did a good thing. as it relates to the omnibus, we all have to ask the question, if the plus-up is somewhere in the neighborhood of $32 billion in additional spending, yet we understand in the tax extender package, hundreds of billions of llars were unpaid for over a 10-year period and ultimately someone is going to pay the price for that, that's one of the reasons we got something like sequestration, we got jammed as a result of tax cuts , at were not paid for in 2001 a failed war in iraq, a failed war in afghanistan, none of that was paid for and ultimately we
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find ourselves in fiscal difficulty. who pays? the most vulnerable in america. that's how we got sequestration. . i'm not convinced we're not going to find ourselveses in a similar situation going forward as a result of what was tone with this tax extender package today. i'm in the process of continuing to review the omnibus bill and trying to weigh and balance the equities. i will tell you, though, that the failure to do something anywhere people of puerto rico is greatly troubling. because it doesn't cost the taxpayers anything. and the fact that some of the programs of importance to urban america, whether that's historically black colleges and universities, may not have received the resources some of us think they deserve and got concerns as it relates to some of the foreclosure prevention
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issues and some other areas, we're all going to have to take a look at the equities, but it is clear that we should be able to do much better. for the american people, for those that we've come to the congress to represent, for those who have disproportionately born the burden of reckless and irresponsible fiscal policies over the past decade or so, and let's just hope that we can proceed to do things differently in a way that benefits those we represent here in america. so i thank the distinguished gentlelady for her opportunities to speak further on this issue and also want to acknowledge my good friend, keith ellison who is a tremendous champion for working families across the country. mrs. watson coleman: thank you, i appreciate that. thank you to my colleague and friend, i appreciate your perspective from the
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proportionality issue. who's going to pay? we're going to pay. who is going to pay when the bill comes due? it is the working famries and most vulnerable. let's not get so excited about the $30 billion increase when we realize we've been under sequestration, for what does that mean? i thank you very much for sharing your time with us. now, mr. speaker, i'd like to yield to my colleague from minnesota, congressman ellison. mr. ellison: let me thank the gentlelady. i just want to say, you've done an awesome job holding down the progress i special order hour. it's been to the benefit of everyone who listens. so bonnie watson coleman, thank you very much. mr. speaker, it's important for all of us involved in this debate and every american to understand a concept known as starve the beast. it's a conservative concept and what it really means, and i
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would like everybody just to be clear, what it means is that the conservative wing in our country wants to shrink the size of government where a big multinational oil company will never have to worry about an e.p.a. regulator because the government will have so little money, they won't have an e.p.a. regulator. the starve the beast concept means that a big bank won't ever have to worry about a bank regulator saying, hey, mr. banker, you cannot do that with the american people's money, you have to be fair, you have to be proper and right with the people's money, because we'll shrink the government to be so small and so weak that there won't ever be that regulator who will say to the big banks, you cannot do that. starve the beast means that the largest private sector elements in our country cannest tape accountability that the
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government provides through the people who inspect the water, the people who inspect the meat, the people who inspect the air quality the people who inspect these things. and when the public interest runs afoul of the private gain, the private gain will prevail because the public won't have the wherewithal and resources to say, no, or you have to readjust this, or you have to operate at a higher standard of quality or anything like that. how do you get this starve the beast strategy in play? e thing you do is you have unpaid for tax cuts and you get these tax cuts in place, they're all good you say, isn't this great, don't you want to stop paying taxs? who likes paying taxes? nobody. so people say, ok, good, we're going to get out of having to pay taxes, how nice. but then you don't pay for them. but then what happens to the budget? you've got a big hole in the budget because the revenue you
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were counting on is not there. now, then, you use the public relations to say that raising taxes is just the worst thing anyone could ever do at any time in their life. they say this three letter word of tax, it's really a four letter word, i'll let your imagination go from there. then, because they have been raising -- they made raising revenue utterly radioactive, all we can do is cut. so what do we do? we cut education funding. we cut meals on wheels. we cut national institute of health. we cut, we cut, we cut. all this stuff that ordinary citizens relie on. until we get to the next round of tax cuts. by the way, when it comes to tax cuts and conservatives, if the economy is doing really well they need a tax cut. if it's doing really bad, of course the solution to that is what? a tax cut. and if we're just doing average, well, why not have a tax cut. almost always unpaid for.
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and if you look at it over time, there's this pattern of irresponsible tax cuts, deficits, cuts to fix it, more tax cuts, deficits, more cuts to fix it, never do we raise the revenue we need in order to meet the needs of our society. who gets hurt? not the country club set. people who need their government to function on their behalf. people who drink water every day. who need some inspection of it. people who eat -- like to breathe clean air. people who might want to eat some meat that's been inspected. people who might, suffering from a serious disease like alzheimer's or parkinson's, who might need the national institute of health to put forth a grant which will help. and so what does that all have to do with this discussion? today, we just passed a bill that gave $600 billion worth of
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unpaid for tax cuts and made them permanent. we created a structural deficit even worse. now, are they going to -- now they're going to give it back a little bit, a little bit. we give away $600 billion. they give us $30 billion. voila, we're supposed to be happy about that. there's a concept also known as stockholm syndrome. they cut -- your captor holds you in control and you -- and then they, after they've held you a little while they give you a few little chips. then they make you think when they give you even a little drop of water, that they're so benevolent. i will never forget that we never should have had sequester in the first place. we never should have had sequester. we had a hostage taking situation here where republicans were literally threatening to default and renege on the full faith and credit of the united states by not -- by busting the
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debt ceiling. if we did not give them back all kinds of cuts and concessions, they would bust the debt ceiling. so then we entered into this deal where we had some cuts in the beginning and then with they did is, they said, we're going to set up a special committee three republicans in the house, three republicans in the senate, three republicans in the -- three democrats in the house, three democrats in the senate. this committee was supposed to come up with some cuts, targeted cuts to reduce the deficit. which they said then was the worst thing in the world to ever have a deficit. and then they got in that committee and instead of holding their pledge to protect and defend the united states, they upheld their pledge to not raise taxes to serb political figures in our landscape. the whole committee failed and this was contemplated that if this committee cannot come up with targeted cuts, then there will be across the board cuts on both sides, also known as sequester. you know what?
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that committee really never had a chance. i wish we would have known then that that committee was always a sucker deal. because they were clicking -- clinking the champagne glasses when that committee fail. they knew it was going to be across the brd cuts. they said, it's going to be domestic discretionary, which you liberals like, and there's going to be cuts to the military which u.s. conservatives like, which is a gross overgeneralization and not exactly accurate, but what we never accounted for is that in 2001, the u.s. military budget was already -- was about $290 billion. by the time we got to sequester, it was about $700 billion. they could stand some cuts but the programs that the average citizen needed that were going to be ravaged could not. so you know, no sooner than the sequester went into effect, we had people say, we can't do these military cuts, can't happen, won't happen. they had their friends and advocates even though they've
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been getting fats for years. what about meals on wheels and education funding and environmental protection? that was attacked. so what does that mean about today? what it means about today is this. things een more tax given away, i definitely think some of the things made permanent today are good tax treatments -- treatments. i'm for research and development. i'm certainly for child credit and eitc. but they should be paid for because if they're not paid for they're going to come out of another part of the budget next year. tax d by the way, how come doesn't have to be paid for but anything regular people need must be paid for. why do we have to find offsets for unemployment insurance but not things big business needs. utter hypocrisy. i want to tell you, for the folks listening, that there is a very important thing that
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speaker john boehner said when the republicans took over a few years ago. he -- they came up with this big, ugly budget, to cut things americans relie on to prosper and grow and they said, we wouldn't pass their house file one system of mr. boehner, speaker boehner said, if they won't take it one big leif loaf at a time, they'll take it one slice at a time. boy if that promise is not being kept. we have to turn around and say no to this starve the beast philosophy. we have to turn it around and start meeting the needs of the american people. taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society. if you don't like taxes, move to so mall ark you won't have to pay any. good luck. but in america, where we pay some taxes that pays for schools that pays for clean water, pays for highways, pays for police, pays for fire, we've got to stop and stand against this false claim that there is something wrong with taxation.
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let me just wrap up on one point. the gentlelady, i know we have to move on, we have other great speakers i want to hear from myself, but i want to make one quick comment as i listen to my colleagues and prepare to take my seat and that is one of the things we'll be dealing with tomorrow. now you know, we talk about this tax extender thing and the omnibus as if it's two different things. it's one big thing. that's truth. one of the elements of the omnibus tomorrow which is pretty ugly, is lifting the oil export ban on crude oil. according to the energy information administration, lifting the ban will increase oil industry profits by more than $20 billion annually. the big companies that make all these extra profits, i think that they have their favorites in the house of representatives and not too many of them sit over here. probably a lot of them sit over there. i will also say that it will cut
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refinery jobs, it will make us more dependent upon foreign oil and it will increase more fossil fuel. this is absolutely the wrong thing, the only virtue of it is that a small, tiny, select number of people are going to get $20 billion. and i'm disgusted by it. by the oil industry's own expectations that this will lead to more than 7,600 wells being drilled each year, more fossil fuel the largest report from the center for american progress says it will result in an additional 500 metric tons of carbon pollution each year, egive lit to 108 million more passenger cars or 138 more coal-fired power plants. it will cost jobs in refineries, it will do real damage to americans, but this is on the docket tomorrow. are there good things on the docket tomorrow? yes, there are. i'll leave it to other people to
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decide whether it's worth toyota pass a monstrosity like this. so i will say, always know that sometimes when you're in the game, somebody else playing has an overall long-term strategy and if you're just playing minute to minute, you are going to be no match for them. understand starve the beast, don't play the gameful i yield back. mrs. watson coleman: i thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and your perspective on those issues we are confronting in the very near future. mr. speaker, could you tell me how much time i have left. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman has 23 minutes left. mrs. watson coleman: thank you very much. i would like to yield to my colleague from georgia, mr. hank ohnson. mr. johnson: thank you, congresswoman. and today, we are just about
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ady to vote an omnibus spending bill which is a part of or tax extender bill that we that some passed today. i did not vote for it. i was opposed to the tax $622 er bill, which added billion to the nation's long-term debt, unpaid for. and largely tax cuts to the wealthy. there are some features in the tax extenders' bill that were appealing. for instance, it enhanced the child tax credit. it made it permanent, along with the enhanced earned income tax
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credit. but -- and those are important for middle-class people, working people. those are very important. and we did the right thing on those, but unfortunately, they represented a small part of that $622 billion. 2/3 of which was a give-away to the wealthy through various tax loopholes. and so congress did that dirty deed today and it blew a hole in the nation's long-term debt. and you know what's going to happen? because while you have reduced the amount of resources that the federal government takes in to be able to give back to the people who are governed in the form of transportation dollars, health care dollars, education dollars, national security dollars, things that we have to
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pay for -- in other words, you can't have the freedoms that we enjoy and the prosperity that we all enjoy without having a government that lays down this infrastructure. and that's what our tax receipts pay for. and so what we've done -- and we have been cutting federal revenues for -- since 1980. it's been almost 40 years we have been on an incease ant cutting of government. we have been spending a lot of money. we have been spending without paying for it. that's what created the debt largely because of wars, unfought wars and tax cuts. so while we have things to pay for, we haven't been paying for them with tax monies.
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we have been paying them with the promise to take in tax money and we continue to increase the cutting taxes. and so, how do you then pay for the government that we need when you are cutting these taxes? well, we pay for this government every year when we have these spending bills that come up and they always tend to come up at the end of the year when everybody is ready to go home and when government is about to shut down because it hasn't been funded. so what did we do this year? we did the same thing this year as we do in previous years and that is to wait until the last minute, put together a 2,000-plus page spending bill and then we spring it on members of congress in the dead of night
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and give us two days, two full days to be able to read through it and then vote on it. we are scheduled to vote on it tomorrow. it's not a great way of doing business in this country. and that's what we have been doing, we are giving away resources. tomorrow we will pass the spending bill -- they call it two bills but really it's one bill that has been split into two parts. the first dirty deed was done today, the next dirty deed will be done tomorrow. the spending bill has a lot of stuff in there that should not be in there. why should you have a spending bill and turn around and give away the nation's resources, the nation's oil. you are going to remove a 40-year prohibition on the be uction of crude oil to
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sent overseas for refinement. you are going to remove that ban n a spending bill that was unleashed on us just two days ago, 2,000 pages, a spending bill. but why are you giving a break to the oil industry? why are we going to vote to remove that ban on sending our precious oil offshore to be refined, thus costing us good middle-class jobs here in america that those refiners -- refinery workers, they are going to lose their jobs because we're going to allow the oil to be exported so it can be refined in a foreign nation by workers who are not paid commensurate to
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what we are paid over here and then we are going to import our own oil back to our country at a higher price? it doesn't make sense, ladies and gentlemen. we need to be weaned from foreign oil and we do that through producing our own oil. if we then send our oil overseas to be refined, then the only folks getting rich off of that are the oil companies, and they have been getting rich for a long time. and we are giving them another opportunity to make billions and billions of dollars more. and it's the oil that belongs to this country. and so it's wrong that we do that. this is one of the features in our spending bill tomorrow, and i disagree with that. i think most americans probably
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do. and many members of congress do also. many who here will be will pass this bill to get out of here and keep the government open. and that's not a great way of doing business. that's not the way we should do business in this country. america deserves better. the citizens deserve better. and with that, i would yield back. mrs. watson coleman: i thank the gentleman from georgia. i appreciate your comments and thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us. and i yield to my classmate and colleague from arizona, representative gallego. mr. gallego: the omnibus has a compromise. the omnibus bill should be about funding the government, not pushing through policies that would never receive enough votes to pass on its own. asking us to support this bill is asking us to support bad
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policy. among the legislation's many serious shortcomings is the failure to address the mounting crisis in puerto rico. the people of puerto rico are american citizens. they vote in our elections, they swear allegiance to our flag, they fight and they die in our wars. yet at a time when massive bills are coming due, this congress has turned its back on puerto rico. including a provision in the omnibus to allow puerto rico to restructure its debt wouldn't cost the taxpayer one money. we did not put that in. every single state in this union are afforded the provisions of chapter 9. that is unfair. and refusal to come to the island's aid is un-american. mr. speaker, that will deal a blow to our efforts to save our planet. less than a week after the week
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in paris, republicans want to give big oil a major victory while leaving our brothers and sisters in puerto rico. lifting the oil export ban on the heels of new studies of warming lakes across the country and around the world is a major effort to all the -- major blow to all the efforts made in paris. according to the energy administration lifting profits by more than 20 billion as a direct expense at america's wildlife and natural resources. y the oil industry's projection, it will result in additional wells being drilled resulting in degradation of one million square acres of wildlife habitat. increasing drilling and without personal nantly the land and water conservation fund takes us backwards and will harm jobs
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while exacerbating the problems we face. mr. speaker, democrats are being asked to fight 2/3 of the vote for this bill, but this agreement does not refleekt even 2/3 of our values. we should reject thi >> next, a house oversight committee on terrorism and then ryan crocker on the syrian efugee crisis. on the next "weash washington kristol and after that, michael brune, executive director to have sierra club. "washington journal" is live every morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern.
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you can join the comments with your calls and on facebook and twitter. republican presidential account ted cruz holds a campaign rally friday in mechanicsville, virginia. you can watch that live starting at 11: 30 a.m. eastern on c-span 3. >> the reagan narrative was that he was a lightweight grade b actor with premature orange hair which is what gerald ford said about him. even with all the success of the administration, all the storians have consistently rated him low out of bias. >> historian craig shirley discusses his book "last act." ronald reagan and the way he has
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been remembered since his death. >> i grew up in the 1980's. i also write about the facts. i don't make things up and i don't believe thated mees or anybody else makes things up. we have succeeded in repositioning people's thinking the ronald reagan and picture that emerges is a serious, deep thinking considerate man. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on "q & a." >> next a look at the screening process of foreigners entering the united states. the house oversight and government reform committee heard from state officials. as they evaluated the visa program. the hearing is just over four hours.
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>> the committee on oversight and government reform will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. fiscal year 2013 the state department issued almost 10 million visas. the state department issued an additional 531,463 immigrant visas last year alone. those 10.5 immigrants joined an estimated 20 million others who entered the united states without visas under the visa waiver program. r government also issued 1 million 75 this in fiscal year 2015. we're guessing close to 10 million border crossing cards in circulation today. on top of that, more than a million nonimmigrant students are lawfully studying in the
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united states on student visas. some were granted employment authorization in fiscal year 2013. in 2013, the last year for which statistics are available, the united states granted asylum status to 25,199 people and for iscal year 2008 to 2014, the number fearing credible fear of persecution in their home country increased some 920%. we have seen a rapid rise of people coming into the united states stepping into our country claiming asylum. we have had a lot of discussion about refugees. let's also understand the surge that is happening on our borders. just today on the front page of the "washington post" it has a front page story about the number of children that are coming across our borders. you can put that graphic down. thank you. the total number of asylum
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applications filed between 2010 and 2014 more than doubled going from 47,000 plus to over 108,000. d 69,000,933 refugees were resettled in the united states just last year. that is an incomplete picture and evidently not enough for the obama administration. not everyone who is here came legally or obtained lawful status once they got here. 2013, 241,442 people were processed for expedited removal. the border patrol made 486,651 apprehensions. still there is up to an estimated 15 million people that are here illegally. it is estimated that 40% of those folks entered legally and simply did not leave. these numbers beg the question
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of whether the united states is doing enough to vet people who are applying to come to the united states. our world is changing, and along with it, the types of threats that we encounter. certainly with our experience with 9/11, the boston bombers and our more recent attacks make the screening process an important element. the recent terrorist attacks in san bernardino and paris highlight how important these background checks have to be. we saw some of the most horrific terror episodes that we have had in our nation recently in california. 14 people murdered. wounding 21 more. it was the deadliest terrorist attack on united states soil ince september 11.
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tashfeen malik came to the united states is on a fiancee visa before getting her green card. she emigrated from the united states from pakistan. her name was checked in the national security database. then the state detcht used her fingerprints to do a background check. then d.h.s. checked her out again. she cleared each check. no red flags were raised. but it was pretty clear now in looking back that it was well known among her friends and family that she supported violent jihad against the united states. it is being reported this morning, i think it is msnbc that as early as 2011 homeland security was preparing to check social media and yet homeland security decided that was a bad idea. almost every story i have ever heard read and seen is about -- even the president has made comments about terrorists who
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are really good at using social media. back in 2011 when homeland security was thinking about using social media, the decision in homeland security was bad idea. they made the wrong call. they made the really wrong call. it is unclear what d.h.s. will actually do when it encounters fraud via social media or other tools it you all the lieses for applicants seeking asylum in the united states. this is publicly available information. under current law, overstaying a visa, violating its terms or or committing fraud in the immigration fraud is sufficient to render an alien deportable. all too often we hear stories of offenders who are encountered by law enforcement until they have overstayed or committed crimes and then jeh hohnson puts out
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you nce and says even if commit sex crimes, you don't necessarily need to deport them. they commit a crime and homeland security is saying use discretion. we may not want to deport these people. it is not a threat to public safety. you tell a woman that has been raped that it is not against public safety to have that person here. we're going to go through that in this committee here today. a joint subcommittee hearing last thursday left many of the members -- about to address a growing threat. they sent the screening secretary for screening to this committee. it was an embarrassment. her bio states she deters, detects and denies access to or
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withholds benefits to individuals who may pose a threat to the united states of america. she could not answer a single question. i don't know. i'll have to get back with you. all the promises she made by the way, she didn't fulfill. she couldn't even tell me if more people come in by land, by sea or by air. she thinks most people come into this country by air and she is in charge of screening. you can see why we're scared to death that this administration, the department of homeland security, the state department is not protecting the american people. she has worked in the office since 2007. the basic lack of information of a senior official raises serious americans have legitimate concerns that the radical extremists pose to their safety, the safety of their friends, families and communities. i would like to complete my
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opening remarks with a video. this is of the national security advisor and then followed up by -- followed up by -- it will speak for itself. >> is president obama reconsidering his plan to accept 10,000 syrian refugees over the next year? >> no, chris, we're still planning to take in syrian refugees. we have very robust vetting procedures for those refugees. it involves our intelligence community, our national intelligence center, all the available information. >> bringing syrian refugees into the united states? >> no, chuck. we have very extensive screening procedures for all syrian refugees who would come to the united states. there's a very careful vetting process that includes our intelligence community, our national counterterrorism center, our department of homeland security. we can make sure we are carefully screening anybody that comes to the united states. >> and are you confident enough in our vetting process as the united states brings syrian refugees into our country he to
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pledge that this will never happen here? >> with respect to refugees, we have the most extensive security vetting that we've ever had to deal with syrian refugees coming into the united states that involves not just department of homeland security and the state department but also the national terrorism center so that anybody that comes to the united states we are carefully vetting against all of our information. >> i think that's the challenge we're all talking about is that we can only query against that which we have collected, and so if someone has never made ripple in the pond, in syria, in a way that would get their entry in our database, we can look at the database but nothing will show up because we have no record on that person. that is what the assistant director was talking about. you can only query what you have collected. >> at least the f.b.i. director calls it like it is. at least the f.b.i. director is telling us candidly what's
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happening out there, and in the case of the most recent terrorist attacks, when the person maybe hasn't been here or there are other circumstances, you can see why we have great cause for concern. we have a series of questions today. what i would like to do is introduce the panel, allow for their opening statements and then we will have the opening statement from mr. cummings and we will go to agrees there. i will hold the record open for five legislative dates for any members who would like to summit a written statement. we're now going to recognize our witnesses. we're pleased to recognize mr. alan bersin for the offense of policy of the united states department of homeland security. the honorable leon rodriguez, director of the united states citizenship and immigration services. the honorable michele bond,
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assistant secretary to have bureau of heir affairs at the united states department of state and the honorable anne richard, bureau of refugees and migration, the united states department of state. we welcome you all. thank you for being here. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses are sworn before they testify. if you'll please rise and raids raise your -- raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. thank you. please be seated. let the record reflect that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. in order to allow time for discussion, please limit your oral testimony to five minutes and the entire written record -- statement will be made pafert of the record. then we will go to agrees there.
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mr. bersin, you are now recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, mr. chairman, members of the committee. he last time i had the privilege of being here was to discuss the issue of libya. i'm happy to be here this morning. i look forward to our dialogue. also in this 15th year since 2001, since september 11 2001, want to express the support and sympathy that i and my family feel and i'm sure my colleagues on the panel share and our colleagues across federal service for the families of the -- those killed in san bernardino. and for the families and the victims who were injured 2,1 victims injured in that terrorist attack. -- 21 victims injured in that errorist attack.
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it has been described in some detail the systems that have been put in place for screening of travel. i am going to give you an overview to look at this system and the four major overshaping factors that have built it since 9/11. i point out this is a system that was built turned leadership of two presidents. one republican and one democrat. it was built under the leadership of four homeland security secretaries, two democrat and two republican. it was built under four secretaries of state. two republicans and two democrats. what we faced after 9/11 was a situation in which we did not have a unified system. i was the united states attorney in southern california and i recall in the 1990's that there were terrorist watch lists in each of the various departments.
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in the aftermath, in the 14 years since 9/11, we have built the system that brings together the information of the united states government and institutionalizes in a multiagency way. we have the national counterterrorism center, the nttc. -- nctc. tst -- tsdb. we actually have brought the system together and we do communicate and i trust during this hearing we will have an opportunity to discuss that. the second major shaping influence was to realize that 98% or 99% of all trade and travel to the united states is perfectly lawful and legitimate and therefore we needed to see security and travel facilitation
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and trade not as being mutually exclusive but as being part of the same process. we needed to introduce a risk management into the trade and travel investigate systems. the third influence was that we recognized in a global world where there is a massive instant aeneas flow of good and people, images and ideas that in fact protecting the homeland, the homeland security enterprises inherantly transnational. and we built out a system in which together with the state department, the defense department, the intelligence agencies, d.h.s. has a presence abroad to watch and movement of cargo and movement of persons toward the homeland. and fourthly, what we have seen recently, and it is shaping the system now is that in fact, we
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have a transnational threat that is cyber enabled and that our terrorist enemies are actually using the internet to radicalize those who listen to their message and are receptive to it. so what we have built and what we need to continue to build, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion is a system that protects the american people by building up a homeland security enterprise that takes into account predeparture toward the united states. departure towards the united states, entry into the united states and then exit from the united states in due course. lastly, mr. chairman, i would be -- with all due respect, i would be remiss if i did not say i know of no other career person in the policy office that i'm responsible for who is more dedicated, more knowledgeable
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about screening. the fact of the matter, mr. chairman, she came to this hearing expecting to talk about the visa waiver program. and she was hardly questioned at all about it. i make no apologies for her. she is first rate. she is an american. she is a patriot. and i regret that you came away with a different impression. hank you, sir. >> that we will be discussing. mr. rodriguez, you are now recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, chairman, ranking member, members of the committee. one of our very most obligation as public servants is to safeguard public safety. and national security. that is particularly true when we are granting benefits and privileges. so when we give body is a driver's license, we require a test so we know that person will
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drive safely. when we give professionals licenses, we test them to know that they can practice their professions in a manner that poses minimal threat and harm. we do what we can to minimize risk. that is particularly true in the area of citizenship and immigration and when we grant citizenship and immigration benefits, we take a number of safeguards to protect the national security. an observation made by congressman gowdy last week at a hearing before his subcommittee resonated with me particularly. and he challenged us that when incidents occur, we be talking not just about what we are doing in response to that incident, but that we really be thinking in terms of prevention of future challenges. as i reflected on that, that in fact has been our posture and will continue to be our posture in the future and i'll give a few examples. we are as secretary johnson has
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frequently observed in an evolving threat environment. more and more, the threats are not the threateneds posed by organizations acting in a concerted manner but increasingly those threats are the threatsor isolated individuals or isolated groups of people perhaps inspired by the organizations that present the threat to our country. in light of that combination of threats, the organized and also the isolated threats, we have been taking a number of measures over the past few years to reinforce the work that we do. one clear example is the institution to have interagency check that we apply in refugee vetting and in other environments that gives us a very organized, very methodical way to query against intelligence databases when we are screening particular individuals. i know there have been discussions about individual who is entered the united states at
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earlier times. some of those individuals were not subject to that sort of screening. they would be today and in many cases that would have prevented their entry. when we screen syrian refugees, we prescreen the cases before interviews are conducted. that is another innovation in a spirit of prevention. and we have been piloting the use of social media for the vetting of particular category s individuals. there have been three pilots used in combination with its intelligence community and law enforcement partners to screen particular categories of individuals seeking immigration benefits. we have already concluded two of those pilots which operated on a relative by small group of people. we have learned a number of important lessons on that pilot.
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now we are in the midst of a third pilot, which in fact, has been applied and is in the process of being applied to literally thousands of applicants for immigration benefits. any thought that is department f homeland security has simply forgone the use of social media for purposes of immigration screening is a mistaken thought. we have not spoken about it in great detail because the fact is the more we speak about it, the more those who use it will sees to use it knowing that we will be examining that content. at happened in san bernadine -- san bernardino is a tragedy. we should take no other lesson other than we need to look at what we do and make sure something like that does not happen again. that a tragedy of that type does not happen again. in fact, we have been working together with our partners at the state department and our
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partners in d.h.s. and the intelligence community to further look at opportunities to strengthen the manner in which we screen individuals. as i read news accounts of what occurred in san bernardino, i am struck by the fact that among the victims in san bernardino are individuals who news reports related were immigrants themselves, who had come from all over the world to live live s of service serving the most vulnerable people in our society. and do feel that my oath applies to those individuals as well as all the victims of san bernardino to protect them. it is necessary for the vie talent of our economy. it is necessary for the stability and unity of our families and fundamental to our values and i pledge to operate my part of the immigration system in a way that maximizes every opportunity that we have to protect the american people
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to protect our national security. thank you, chairman, for inviting us here today. >> thank you. ms. bond, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman chaffetz and embers of the committee. as has been described, the department of state along with partner agents throughout the federal government has build a layered visa and border screening system in order to view and assess the visa eligibility and status of foreign visitors throughout their travel travel to and arrival in the united states. we take our commitment to brect america's borders and citizens seriously and we constantly analyze and update clearance procedures and look for new ways do an even better vetting process. my written statement describes the screening regimen that
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applies to all of these categories and alalthough the tragedy, the terrorist attack in san bernardino sparked particular interest in the fiance visa, we apply equally rigorous screening to all applicants and travelers to the united states. the vast majority of visa applicants and all immigrant and fiance applicants are interviewed by an officer and the information that has been provided describes the extensive training which is provided to the officers, a strong emphasis onboarder security and fraud prevention, interagency coordination, how to conduct those interviews and assure the name check process is thoroughly done. all applicants' data are vetted against databases that contain million s of records of individuals found ineligible for visa or regarding whom potentially derogatory
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information exists including the terrorist identity database, which is referred to. we finger prints them and screen them against d.h.f. and f.b.i. databases. we screen their photos against photos of known or suspects terrorists and the entire gallery of individual who is have ever applied for a visa which is contained in our dats base at the state department. -- database at the state dement. when it generates a red light hit, they submit the application for a washington-based interagency review conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies and the department of state. at individual overseas posts, we have additional screening done by visa security programs, staff and the patriot system. the visa security units are located in over 20 high-threat posts and special agents
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assigned provide onsite vetting of these applications and other law enforcement support to officers. security reviews do not stop when the visa is issued. the department and partner agencies continuously match new threat information with our records of existing visas or visa waiver program travelers and we use our authority to revoke visas when indicated. since 2001, the department has revoked over 122,000 visas for a variety of reasons including nearly 9,500 for suspected links to terrorism. western gauged with interagency partners in the senior level review of the fiance process ordered by president obama and expect that recommendations will apply to all visa screening. we're also working with the department of homeland security and the bureau of counterterrorism at the
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department on security screening of visa waiver program travelers and enhancing the data sharing commitments required for membership. are investigating the applicability. mr. chairman, ranking member cummings and distinguished members. the department of state has no higher priority than the safety of our fellow citizens at home and abroad and the security of the traveling public. every visa decision is a national security decision. there is nothing routine about our work. we appreciate the support of congress as we continuously work to strengthen our defenses. mr. chairman, i know you have visited mexico. i encourage every one you ever to visit our counselor sessions when you abroad to meet with our staff and observe the process that applicants undergo. i look forward to your
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questions. >> thank you. ms. richard, you are now recognized for five minutes. >> chairman chaffetz and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee regarding the u.s. refugee admissions program and security vetting for refugees considering settlement in the united states. in fiscal year 2015 nearly 70,000 refugees of 67 different nanlts were permitted for settlement in the united states. in 2016, the president has determined that we should increase the overall number to 85,000 including at least 10,000 syrians. admitting more is only part of the solution to the current global refugee immigration crisis but it is in keeping with our american tradition. ette shows the world that we seek to provide for those in need and it is an example others to follow. resettlement is offered to refugees who are among the most
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vulnerable. people for whom a return to syria some day would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. such as women and girls at risk, survivors of torture, children at risk and those with medical needs or disabilities. families or individuals who could benefit the most from a settlement are refered to the unhdr.ons program by the let me make clear they do not determine who comes to the united states. that determination is made by the depts of homeland security. i know the mourdous attacks in paris on november 13 have raised many questions about to spillover of not just migrants to europe but the spread of violence from war zones in the east to the european capital. let me assure you that the entire executive branch and the state department that i represent has the safety and security of americans as our highest priority. as an essential fundamental part
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of the admissions program, we screen applicants carefully in an effort to assure that no one who poses a threat to safety and security of americans is able to interow question. r -- enter our country. it can take 18-24 months. refugees of all nanlts undergo intense security screening involving security and law enforcement agencies including the national counterterrorism center, the f.b.i., the department of homeland security. i want to make clear that we work in very close partnership with usdis headed by leon rodriguez. our offices are in constant touch. our responsibility is to help prepare the refugees for their interview and to prepare them, those who qualify for life in the united states, d.h.s., though, that is heavy burden of
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determining whether someone qualifies for a refugee and screening out anybody anyone who is a possible threat. no one has a right to come to the united states as a refugee. so if there is any doubt, they screen people out. applicants to the u.s. refugee aed missions program are currently subject to the highest level security check s of any category of traveler to the united states. this includes biometric and fingerprints and a lengthy overseas interview by d.h.s. officer who is scrutinize the applicants to ensure the applicant is a bonafide refugee. the vast majority of the 3 million refugees who have been admitted to the united states since the vietnamera including from some of the most troubled regions to have world have proven to be hard-working and productive residents. they pay taxes and send their children to school and after five years, many take the test
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to become citizens. some serve in the u.s. military and undertake other form s of service for their communities and our country. i'm happy to answer any questions you may have about our contributions to aid refugees and victim s of conflict overseas and our diplomatic efforts. thank you. >> we'll now recognize our ranking member, mr. cummings of maryland. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i thank you for calling this hearing and i think that if we were to -- as i listen to the testimony, i have two words that ring out for me. i hope that it will be the theme of this hearing. and they are two words that i repeat to my staff over and over and over again. effectiveness and efficiency. effectiveness and efficiency. i believe that i speak for every
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member of this committee when i express our condemnation for the actions of these two depraved malik, ts, farook and ho murdered 14 innocent people in cold blood and injured many, many others in their sickening ram underage california just two weeks ago. -- rampage in california just two weeks ago. we know that their lives will be changed forever by this horrific act. we also extend our profound thanks to the hundreds of law enforcement officials, emergency first responders and health care providers who responded then and re still responding today to
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this act of evil. this attack was unusual because it was carried out by a husband, a united states citizen, and a woman who came into our country this ance visa, married man and then had a baby with him and that baby was only 6 months old at the time of the attack. last week the director of the f.b.i. testified before the senate that based on the f.b.i.'s ongoing investigation, it appears that both mr. farook and ms. malik were radicalized before malik entered the united states. the director explained yesterday however that contrary to the
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suggestion that a simple google search would have revealed malik's ral radicalism, these terrorists did not post their messages on publicly available social media. the director stated "we found no evidence of a posting on social media by either of them at that period of time where they were reflecting their commitment to jihad." the director also said this. and i quote -- "i see no indication that either of these ."llers came across our screen he also stated he had not seen anything that "put them on our screen." unfortunately, due to the extremely short turnaround for
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today's hearing, we do not have anyone here from the f.b.i. mr. chairman, i ask unanimous consent to place this fox news story into the record which is entitled san bernardino terrorist didn't post public messages, the f.b.i. director says. >> that objection is ordered. >> thank you, mr. chairman. so if a search of the social public media would not have prevented the attack, the question before us today is what else -- and this is the question that is so vital to our witnesses and we need to know this, by the way, i agree with you, when you referred to our distinguished gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy, about preventing things. ut the question is what else
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needs to be done to identify foreign nationals seeking to enter the united states who pose a risk to our national security? again,fectiveness and fficiency. for example, should the united states agency's attempt to access password protected platforms like the one reportedly used by malik? how should they identify people who use alternate identities which law enforcement officials also believe malik apparently used. which agency should do it? state department? the d.h.s.? the f.b.i.? our intelligence agencies or all of them? once they conduct the screening, how should they report the results? should they go into the national counterterrorism database? the f.b.i.'s terrorist screening
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database or others? and finally, should federal agencies be able to access communications over social media accounts of u.s. citizens who sponsor foreign nationals and if so, under what circumstances? these are all very difficult questions. and a lot of answers may involve classified information. i understand that there are several pilot programs already in the works. i also understand that the president has ordered a review that is currently ongoing. our job is to grapple with these issues and develop solutions that help protect this great nation. the american people expect aggressive and urgent action to screen people entering the country to ensure that they do not pose risks to our national security. again, effectiveness and efficiency. for these reasons, i believe that one of the most
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constructive steps our committee can take today is to examine the various information databases used by federal agencies to make sure they are sharing as much information as possible to promote our national security. and so i thank our state department and d.h.s. witnesses for being here on such short notice and i look forward to your testimony as you address that question of how we can be more effective and efficient. with that, mr. chairman, i want to thank you for your courtesy and i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. we'll now recognize the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan, for five minutes. >> mr. bersin, in your opening statement you said the witness we had last week was a patriot. no one's questioning that. but then you also said that she came prepared to answer questions about the visa waiver program last week. i just want to read from the transcript last week. how many visa waiver program oversay i stays are in the
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united states? she said i didn't bring that number. how many may have traveled to syria before they got here. her response, i don't know that number. final question was how many people came from the visa waiver program country that are here today and they may have been in syria or iraq before they came here. do we know that? i don't have that answer. so she obviously wasn't prepared to answer questions about the subject. does she work for you, mr. bersin? >> yes, sir. >> so why didn't you just come last week? >> i was in london with --6 etary johnson at the g plus 1. >> why didn't you come last week? are you prepared to answer the questions today? >> with regard to overstays as was indicated, mr. jordan, this has been an issue spanning both republican and democratic administrations. with regard to the overstay -->>
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let me ask you some specifics. how many visa waiver programs are in the country today? >> if you give me an opportunity, i'd be pleased to respond your question. the overstay report, which has been the subject of attention to this committee and the congress for many years. if you would like to understand why that report has not been produced despite 20 years of requests. >> i'm not asking for a report. i'm asking for a number. how many visa waiver program travelers are in the country today? just the overall number. how many are here today? >> there are 20 million persons who enter the country each year on the visa waiver program. >> 20 million a year. do we know how many are here today? >> i cannot give you a number given the way in which the -- >> that 20 million, how many -- how many overstays are here in a year's time? >> we track overstays and we are preparing a report for that. we do not have a number that has
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been -- >> ok, that -- let me ask this. of the 20 million who come in here in a year, do we know how many may have been to syria or iraq, some travel there and then come to the united states in the visa waiver program? do we know? >> the homeland security information, the counter terrorism and exploitation unit has opened up a number of investigations with respect to the number -- >> do we know a number? you said 20 million come on the visa waiver program in a year. a bunch of those overstay. we know that. you can't give me that number. i'm asking the number who come on the visa waiver program, do we know if they were in syria or iraq before they came here? >> there were 113 investigations opened up by homeland security investigations, mr. jordan, and the bulk of those investigations have actually been closed. and in fact, there are 18 ongoing investigations associated with syrian nationals.
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>> so that 113 number specific to the question i asked. people on the visa waiver program who may have traveled -- who did travel to syria or iraq before they came here. >> i do not have a specific number. i'm telling you that on the overstays that were identified -- >> so it could be much higher than 113? >> mr. jordan, i am very eager to answer your question but i cannot -- >> have i a minute and 20 seconds. >> you interrupt me every time i do so. >> i'm sorry. keep going. >> thank you. there are investigations and over the last year in fiscal year 2015 there have been 118 investigations of syrians. i cannot tell you which ones of those entered the country on the visa waiver program. i can tell you that those were overstays that have been identified as having come from syria. of that 118, 11 were administratively arrested and the rest remainder were closed with the exception of 18 ongoing
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investigations which are connected to syrians and overstays. >> all right. let me switch subjects. this news account that i think was msnbc, top officials at the department of homeland security considered a specific policy to strengthen security screenings r foreign visa applicants' social media accounts. were you part of the team that in ed the idea of screening the social media accounts? >> no, sir, i was not in the office of policy at that point. i do know the secretary johnson has encouraged the components of d.h.s. to continue the work. referenced by director rodriguez to continue the work they have been engaged in with regards to social media. i'm aware of no memorandum, secret or otherwise that bars the opponents of d.h.s. from using social media. >> mr. chairman, real quick, one
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different subject, but in your opening statement, mr. bersin, you mentioned the last time you testified in congress. you testified about libya. do you think the situation in libya today is more stable than it was in 2011 or less stable? >> the hearing on which -- >> i'm asking your opinion on the stability of libya today? >> i would defer to the state department. my personal opinion, which is not relevant, it's not any more stable, but it had nothing to do with the issue. >> wasn't it true isis is now in libya as well? >> the gentleman's time has expired. go ahead and answer the question. >> i'll defer to the state department on that judgment. >> you are the chief diplomatic officer for policy. i think your opinion is relevant. >> what is the question, mr. hairman? >> the question mr. jordan asked you, what is your opinion of that question? you're -- >> with isil? >> yes. >> or with libya? >> well, both.
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>> i gave the answer with regard to libya. and with regard to isil, i think isil remains a substantial threat that is being treated as such by every rational political leader i know across the world, in addition to the european leaders that secretary johnson, attorney general lynch met with last week in london. >> gentleman from massachusetts mr. lynch is now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning. i want to thank the witnesses for helping this committee with this work and for your service to courn. i do want to go back, secretary bersin, about the overstay issue she is a fineeek, person. she just didn't have her numbers person with her. they had no numbers for us. that was tragic. unresponsive to a huge number of questions unfortunately and i'm sure she is a fine person but we're after the facts. she didn't have many.
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ok. so she told us last week we had to recess the hearing so she could call the office perfectly she told us -- office. she told us 20 million people a year come in under the visa waiver program. she said there was a 2% overstay each-year. that is what she told us. which comes to 4 hoopt overstays per year. and -- 400,000 overstays per year. are you telling me something different today? >> the estimate is in that range. >> ok. i'm good with that. i don't want to use up my time on that. i was going to come out of this hearing with less facts than what i came in with. >> but i did want to say that this issue of the overstay and the submission of the report which is under way and i admit -- >> it's been under way for a long time. i'm not a young man. i'm not a young man. i don't want to do anything more on this. i just don't think that's happening. we have been promised that
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information for years. that ain't happening. when i see the report, i'll believe it. et me go on. look, between what mr. -- what director comey has said even just yesterday -- look, if you talk to the folks in our national security community, the islamic state is using social media as a main recruiting tool. this is their game. this is their world. they are doing this all over the globe. yet, when we look at what homeland security is doing, we don't have a regular widespread requirement that our people review the social media of people coming from trouble areas where you have a lot of terrorists, places like pakistan, afghanistan, syria, iraq, tunisia, part s of north
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africa where you have a lot of support for radical jihad, we're not reviewing the social media even though that is the world? n which they operates. we don't regularly review that and that is a major problem. so -- look. i think if someone is applying for citizenship to the united states, it is entirely reasonable that we ask for their social media contact, their information that -- these people don't radicalize overnight. a lot of them have had public statements. not their private emails. i know that tashfeen malik, maybe her stuff was private. we should have got that anyway. we should have said we want your social media, your private stuff and your public in your private stuff and your public stuff. that is entirely reasonable. why aren't we doing that?
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like colleges. i represent massachusetts. 52% of our colleges request all the information on their social media. , halfpplicant to college of our employers do. they want to know what is going on on your facebook, your social media. if have the employers in america are doing that in the private sector, if the colleges are doing it for students, why the hell wouldn't the department of homeland security do it for someone coming from a terrorist country into the united states? it would seem to be, i daresay, a no-brainer, but it is not happening. it has me worried. anybody care to respond to that? i can take part of that question. as i tried to make clear in my
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opening remarks, we have been piloting -- again, a number of cases. rep. lynch: very few, though. i know you have some pilot cases, but we have millions of people who want to come into this country and we are doing a very small bit. we do not even look at a public stuff. that is what kills me. dhs does not regularly require that their administration officers -- we do not even look at the public stuff. mr. rodriguez: we are moving othern the refugee and context, we have been doing some of it. rep. lynch: you have three small pilot programs going. we have talked to the folks oversees about what they are doing. it is not regular, routine, widespread. i talked to you before the hearing about what is going on in beirut. we have not had a regular vetting team there in a year.
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they fly in and fly out because of the conditions. i do not want happy talk. sometimes, i hear a lot of that, that we are doing fine overseas. when i drill down and go to beirut, the syrian border, oman, what you are telling us is happy talk. they say they do not have the resources. they did not have the resources when they had 160 applicants a week. now they are getting 16,000 a week and we have the same amount of resources we had before to ve t them. troubles me greatly. i do not think we are doing a great job and i think we could do better. i would like to get the resources, the people to vet people. and then, if we deem them eligible, then you take them in as refugees. we can be smart and then we can be compassionate. right now, it does not seem like we are doing either. rep. chaffetz: i now recognize
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the gentleman from michigan for five minutes. walberg: going back to the issue that my colleague broached with you, dhs has indicated that it began three pilot programs. we talked about that. social media screening in the fall of 2014. has dhs ever had a policy preventing adjudicators and attorneys from reviewing social media posts? mr. rodriguez: i am not aware of a policy that prevented it, per se. there are obviously various privacy and other issues. there has never been a privacy, per se. just about the entire time i have been director and that secretary johnson has been secretary, what we have been doing is piloting and developing the capacity to use social media
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in a thoughtful, functional manner. se bothers meper a bit. you are indicating that there was no direct policy to prevent it. mr. rodriguez: i am not aware of a policy. i would not read too much into the phrase "per se." i am not aware of their ever having been a policy that prohibited the use of -- then we have conflicting reports in the last several days. mr. rodriguez: i know full well that during my tenure as director, we have developing and piloting that capacity. mr. rodriguez: so -- rep. walberg: so it is a good policy to look into social media? mr. rodriguez: i do believe that there is information that may be garnered from social media. rep. walberg: and it will be ramped up? mr. rodriguez: we are in the
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process of doing that as we speak. rep. walberg: mr. bersin, why are threeit, if there pilot projects, wait until 2013 to create these pilots? the activities with regard to social media have been conducted by the components, chs, mr. rodriguez's agency, homeland security, and cpp have conducted their activities. there was no overarching policy prohibiting that. to the contrary. these pilots have been going on under secretary johnson's leadership and he has encouraged the components -- rep. walberg: why did we wait until 2014 to initiate these pilots? mr. rodriguez, could you help me on that? why did we wait until 2014 to
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initiate or create these pilot projects? mr. rodriguez: i don't know. during my tenure, we have been busy doing this. what --ble to speak to i would be happy to get that information to the extent that it is not privileged and get that for the committee. rep. walberg: when can we get that? we are getting used to hearing we do not have that information here. mr. rodriguez: the main point is, we are doing it. i just do not know what occurred years before i got here. what we can say now is we are doing it in an abundant manner. we are looking to have it be useful for screening purposes. that seems to me the most important discussion. what happened three or four or five years ago, i cannot speak to that. what about the
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results of what you are doing now? mr. rodriguez: there are areas that are of screening value that you would express -- that you would expect, at least in the early samples. some have been more ambiguous than clear. there are challenges in terms of people using for an out of the -- foreign alphabets. a capacity that needs to be developed. many of these communications, as we have learned may have applied in the san bernardino situation, our private communications. they are not open posts. those are challenges we have identified. that said, we all continue to believe that there is a potential for there to be information of meaning value -- value, particularly in high-risk environments. rep. walberg: i think these
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events have shown that there is probably significant important information that we can use from social media. mr. rodriguez: we do not disagree. rep. walberg: we hope that that would continue and we hope to get more answers and not that this is something we do not know. we have to know that. video, when wee hear the white house telling us that we are doing everything, our vetting process is secure, and then we see something around us take place like in san bernardino, we have got a problem. i yield back. rep. chaffetz: i now recognize the gentleman from california for five minutes. leu: thank you. let me first thank the panel for the public service. i have a question for mr. rodriguez, but first of all, i will make a statement. to be a u.s. citizen. that is because you get amazing benefits.
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one of which, the constitution applies to you. it doesn't seem to me that the executive branch has been blurring the lines between u.s. citizens and foreign nationals. let me give you three examples. 2011, the executive branch deliberately and i believe wrongfully executed an american citizen via a drone strike. the department of justice has said at least four americans have been killed by u.s. drone strikes. second example, the executive branch through the nsa has been seizing hundreds of millions of phone records of u.s. citizens. when wew who we called called, who called us, the duration of those calls. it got so bad that congress had to stop that earlier this year and prevent nsa from violating the fourth amendment rights of u.s. citizens. the third example is the social media. there have been multiple reports. abc news said that a secret u.s.
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watch group is looking at social media of folks seeking entry into the united states. politico says that secretary jeh johnson believes that there are privacy reasons for why dhs is doing this. mr. rodriguez, you mentioned the privacy reasons. i just want to know, the u.s. constitution does not apply to our nationals seeking entry into the united states. so do not give foreign nationals more rights than american citizens have. citizen,e an american you seek a job in the private sector or public sector or my office, i am going to look at your social media. the response i have from you all is that now you are doing three small pilot projects. that is not an adequate response. , you needn to you is
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to reverse that policy if there is a secret policy. at the very least, you need a departmentwide policy that looks at social media, not just three small pilot project. i want to know why you cannot, starting tomorrow, have a departmentwide policy instead of three small pilot projects? mr. rodriguez: there is, not now, nor was there ever, a secret policy prohibiting use of social media for vetting. it needs to be a structure to these things. there needs to be a plan for doing these things. that is what we have been doing for many months now. in fact, the third of the pilots , and we are talking about small numbers, the third of the pilots is being applied to thousands of individuals. i will not go into details beyond that because i do not want to tick people off t as took --ip people off as to what we might be looking at.
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i agree that u.s. privacy strictures apply to u.s. citizens and not to foreign persons. there are numerous examples in the manner in which we receive people at ports of entry's, what we do at our foreign posts that are evidence of that distinction. i am not sure i accept the premise that somehow we are safeguarding the privacy of foreign nationals to a greater degree, however, there are legal concerns that do need to be addressed. rep. lieu: we asked dhs earlier this week, give us a legal case for a provision in the constitution that says if there are any privacy concerns with anything related to a foreign national seeking entry into the united states. i do not understand the quote that senator johnson has attributed to him. what is that case that you are relying on? again, i am not
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the privacy law expert for purposes of this hearing. in fact, there are issues that we need to make sure are satisfied with respect to potentially treaty obligations that apply, with respect to our own laws that may apply, a variety of issues. i would also add -- rep. lieu: let me just suggest the u.s. constitution does not extend privacy exceptions to foreign nationals seeking entry into the united states. you need to not just have pilot programs. there needs to be a policy to look at social media and other visible information of people seeking entry into the united states. with that, i yield back. i would askz: unanimous consent to end into the record an article that came out today.
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you had fox news. i am citing msnbc. fair enough. -- preciate the bipartisan ,he title of this article "homeland security rejected media." vet visa social "we have not vetted that, but in the spirit of getting to the bottom of this, i would ask for consent to enter that into the record. i now recognize the gamut from tennessee. : thank you. are you aware that the plans are americans --00 refugees into america this year?
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can you tell us how much it costs to bring them here? ms. richard: when you add together the state department, department of homeland security, and homeland system -- and homeland services, it is close to $1 billion. >> i had heard about 84,000 or refugee. what percentage would be fighting-age men? we are putting a priority on bringing people who are the most vulnerable. -- soe only brought 2% far, only 2% of the syrians we have brought are fighting-age men who are traveling without any family. percentage a higher in terms of fighting-age men who are traveling with family.
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i just hopeais: that next time america gets attacked, that they do not want to resettle somewhere else, that they would stay and fight for freedom. about ain, you said million people settle each year. did i hear about 400,000 overstay? mr. bersin: that is in the range of the estimate made. rep. desjarlais: what are the repercussions for overstaying your visa? two, one potentially legal and one in terms of your attempt to come back to the country after using. there is an immigration customs enforcement unit called the township -- the counterterrorism criminal exploitation unit that tracks the overstays.
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few, have been relatively but some prosecutions for overstay. there have been removals of people who have overstayed. out of 400,000, you have opened 113 cases. there is not much repercussion for breaking the law. mr. bersin: the main section that is applied is inability to get back into the country depending on the facts of your overstay. rep. desjarlais: how many of the terrorists that perpetrated 9/11 had overstayed their visas? mr. bersin: a number of them, sir. rep. desjarlais: so we need to do much better. manyyrian refugees, how have been arrested in other countries in 2015 and have been accused of supporting the islamic state? mr. bersin: i am not aware of that number as we speak.
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if we have that information, we can certainly -- rep. desjarlais: we really do not know, do we? we probably could not get that information due to a lack of infrastructure in syria. mr. bersin: i want to make sure i understand the question. this is individuals now in europe? rep. desjarlais: yes. mr. rodriguez: i don't know and i doubt we would have that information. ms. richardais: said we are going to go ahead and bring syrian refugees into the country. even the fbi director said there is no way that we can vet these people because we cannot access the syrian database. bashar al-assad is not going to help tell us who the good ones and the bad ones are. to halt it make sense this program until we tell the american people that we can protect them? mr. rodriguez: in addition to the passage by the fbi director that was played on tv earlier, the fbi director has also acknowledged that are vetting process is an extremely tough
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processough vetting that involves multiple interviews, queries against multiple databases. i do not think that is ever what the fbi director said. we. desjarlais: he said that do not have access to any records because we do not have any cooperation from the syrian government so we cannot adequately vet these people. mr. rodriguez: there is considerable data that we use, as i have repeated many times. been denied refugee status because of information that we have found in law enforcement and intelligence databases as well as hundreds of people who have been on hold either because of what was in those databases or that in combination with information discovered during interviews. that has been acknowledged by director komi -- comey. on tv. play one passage that is not the totality of what he has said. rep. desjarlais: if we missed
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just 1%, that is 100 terrorists. it did not take that many in paris or san bernardino. rep. chaffetz: i now recognize the gentleman from pennsylvania for five minutes. cartwright: i want to follow-up the preceding discussion with you, ms. richard. you are assistant secretary, euro of population, refugees, and migration. is it fair to say you are in for -- intimately familiar with the vetting process for the refugees coming into this country? would you turn your microphone on, please? i do not know it as intimately as leon rodriguez, but we are responsible for the overall program. rep. cartwright: that is what i am interested in. what a lot of people do not realize, and you correct me if i am wrong about this, if you are
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somebody applying to be a refugee who is going to be resettled, relocated, you apply to the united nations high on refugees. am i correct? ms. richard: yes. rep. cartwright: when you apply, you are in one of these migrant camps. you have your little kids with you. you do not know where you are going to turn up next. you do not get to say what country you want to go to. am i correct? ms. richard: that is correct. you can express a preference, but you do not get to decide that. rep. cartwright: you do not get to decide where you are going. ms. richard: most refugees do not get resettled. most stay in the country's to which they have fled. rep. cartwright: let's look at it from the shoes of someone who wants to do harm to the united states. if you are an isis terrorist and you want to sneak into the u.s., that would be the dumbest avenue
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you could take, to apply for unhcr resettlement in the united states. you could end up in norway after the 24-month vetting process. ms. richard: i agree. it is not an efficient way for a would-be terrorist to and of the united states. that does not mean we let down our guard. it would only take one bad guy to completely ruin the entire program. and we love this program. this program does so much good for tens of thousands of people every year. rep. cartwright: sure. by the way, the shootings in california, were those perpetrated by refugees? ms. richard: no. no refugees have carried out terrorist activities in the united states. refugeeswright: no have carried out terrorist activities in the united states. so what i have in more concerned about is the visa program. .nd i want to follow-up director rodriguez, fbi director
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james comey reported publicly that the agency had no incriminating information about the shooters in the san bernardino case. is that consistent with your understanding? that is what i have come to understand from director comey. rep. cartwright: assistant secretary von has also will reported that the state department and dhs followed all vetting and background check policies and procedures in this case. is that also correct? ms. bond: yes, it is. k-1 assessight: the begins when an american citizen petitions to bring his or her fiancé to the u.s. is that correct? mr. bersin: that is my understanding. rep. cartwright: how does the department of homeland security screen the k-1 petition?
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my portfolio, sir. what we do at the point the petition is made -- remember, sole purpose is to adjudicate the relationship between the two individuals. nonetheless, we do run background checks at that stage, , whichng the text check goes against a number of law enforcement sources, both the petitioner and the beneficiary. the results of those are then turned over to the applicable embassy for use in the actual visa screening. is the american citizen involved in the k-1 pe tition interviewed at that time? mr. rodriguez: normally not at that time. rep. cartwright: why not? mr. rodriguez: that is one of the points we are exploring right now.
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the adjudicated purpose for the interview at that point is limited. it is to determine whether the relationship exists. obviously, the situation now, and this is where we say very clearly we should not act like nothing is wrong here, i do not want to be giving, as congressman lynch worries, happy talk here. certain individuals need to be interviewed at that stage. rep. cartwright: i do encourage you to look hard at adding an interview at that point in the process. my time is up and i yield back. rep. chaffetz: i now recognize the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gaudi. gaudi: secretary johnson was quoted as saying that there were legal levitz on his ability background checks.
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let's see if we can demystify that. do you agree that citizens who are in the united states -- not in the united states are not afforded any protections under the fourth amendment. mr. bersin: that is my understanding. gowdy: it is also the law. that you agree with me there is no legal bar to accessing data from noncitizens who are not present in the united states? mr. bersin: that is my understanding, sir. you also agreeld that there is no legal right to emigrate to the united states? it is a privilege that we confer on people, but it is not a right. mr. bersin: that is correct, sir. rep. gowdy: would you also agree that you can condition the
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conference of a privilege on just about anything you want so long as you do not violate treaty or -- mr. bersin: or the constitution. rep. gowdy: or the constitution. but you made extensive use of polygraphs when you were the u.s. attorney. mr. bersin: from time to time, yes, sir. rep. gowdy: they are not admissible in court. mr. bersin: not generally. rep. gowdy: but we still use them because they are a very effective tool. do we use them in the vetting of people who want to come here? mr. bersin: with regard to immigration benefits, i am not familiar with the policy in the refugee context. we do not regularly use a polygraph. if there is significant doubt in ,he operational component typically, the decision would be made to bar entry rather than to go to the extent of trying to ascertain the veracity. did gowdy: but you and i
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not just use polygraphs in our previous lives because we had doubt. the personit incents to want to embrace the truth. you certainly cannot admit it in court, so it is not only the result, deception or otherwise, it is the threat that you may be polygraph that provides people with the incentive to tell the truth or they need not apply in the first place. mr. bersin: that can be one reaction from an individual. i am not aware of any policy that would prevent that. i am not aware, operationally, commissioner,p that it has been used in any regular way. rep. gowdy: let me tell you where i find myself. i just listened to ben rhodes give a series of words like expensive, thorough, careful. i have heard tough. all of them amplify
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the word vetting. i sat here and thought, if all of that were true, how did we miss the lady in san bernardino? as the fbi director said, there was nothing in the system that we use that would pick that up. there was no data that we would turn into actionable information to deny admission. you, but i i get have got to be candid with you. that does not make me feel any better. it is one thing to argue that there was information there and we missed it. that is one set of corrective measures. it is another thing to argue, as i hear we are currently arguing in this administration, that we missed nothing. we have someone willing and capable of killing 14 people and there was nothing in her background that this administration says we missed or
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should have picked up on. yet there are still 14 dead people. how does that make us feel better? mr. bersin: i don't think anyone that were that information in the system, that we would not all be relieved and thankful if it has led to the apprehension of that, those murderers. the issue that you asked is factually, were there data in the system, by which we could tell that this risk existed, the answer to that is no. i think the inquiry being made here today is a valid one as mr. rodriguez suggests. we need to look at this hard and long in terms of the utilization of means. i will say that there is no
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secret policy in dhs against the use of social media. there is nothing in the privacy policy that would bar screening purposes. rep. gowdy: it could not be, because it does not apply to non-us citizens. i'm am out of time. i want to tell you the guy -- the dichotomy as i see it. we can tell the american people that are processed and systems are flawed and we have missed information that is otherwise available and let them deal with that, or we could tell our fellow citizens we miss nothing. we did everything we were supposed to do and there are still 14 funerals in california. you need to get used to the risk. neither one of those is acceptable, i would argue to you. not heard: i have anyone involved in law enforcement or homeland security that would not say that we need to strengthen our systems. we have been doing that continuously for the 14 years since 9/11. rep. chaffetz: the gentleman's time has expired. rep. gowdy: forgive me for
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noticing the trend of extending time, but i will you back. yield back. rep. chaffetz: yes, you will. we will now recognize ms. lawrence. lawrence: thank you for being here. , i wantt secretary bond to ask you about the report of the visa office. according to this report, in 2014, foreign services issued about 457,000 immigrant visas. and 9.9 million nonimmigrant visasth. e k-1, -- visas. visas,, or the fiancée are classified as a nonimmigrant visa.
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is that correct? is annd: the k-1 visa unusual hybrid. we process it as an immigrant visa case. we do all of the work on a fiancée visa that we would do for an immigrant visa case. for example, the applicant has to undergo a medical exam to show that there are no communicable diseases or other things. we would not do that for a nonimmigrant. when we actually issued the visa, it is a nonimmigrant visa because, until that person has married the petitioner and applied for adjustment to legal permanent resident status, they do not have the right to remain in the united take after entering. they are not coming in on an immigrant visa, but it is our immigrant visa unit that does all of the preparatory -- all of the work. sayingwrence: are we
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that, although classified as a nonimmigrant, you are saying that they must go everything an immigrant, through the complete process? ms. bond: exactly right. rep. lawrence: how many nonimmigrant visas are we having in the u.s. and what are some of the nonimmigrant visas? ms. bond: there is an alphabet of them. examples of nonimmigrant visas are those we issued to foreign diplomats to serve in their embassies or consulates, people coming as tourists or on business. they might be coming for medical care. we have people coming in as crew members, flying in on planes, coming in on ships. in. lawrence: if i am coming under the nonimmigrant fiancée, at what point are we reviewed
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again to document -- is there another step that happens? so i come in, i have to have a nonimmigrant, so i come back and give you a marriage license and it is done? or is there additional screening? ms. bond: in most cases, the reason they are getting a fiancée visa is they intend to marry and remain in the united states. so they have 90 days to do that. we give them one entry visa. they are allowed to enter the united states and they have 90 depart --ther mary or or depart. most of them, having married, remain in the united states. they get in touch with director in order's colleagues to adjust status and yes, they would provide proof that they had married. rep. lawrence: this is a question that i had and it was referred to by your colleague that they are reviewing the
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interview process of american spouses. except we do not interview the spouse, we interview the application for the fiancée of nonimmigrant visa. the president has directed the state department to review. what is the review? when will the review be completed? and what is the objective of the review? can you outline that, please? ms. bond: the objective of the review, which is an interagency effort, we are working closely with different parts of the department of homeland security and other parts of the government to take a look at every single element of the process. the specific focus is on the fiancée visa. so you have the initial stage where the american citizen files a petition. we are examining that to see what more we can do there.
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then you have the state where the information is vetted and transferred to an embassy, where the applicant is going to be interviewed. we are looking at that process, which is primarily under the inection of my colleagues the bureau of consular affairs. rep. lawrence: my time has run out. what is the timeline to complete this review and report on it? ms. bond: my understanding is that we have to provide a review to the nfc in general. -- in january. rep. lawrence: thank you. rep. chaffetz: members are advised that we have a vote on the floor. i am going to recognize myself for questioning. we will do one more democrat and then we will recess until approximately 11:00 a.m. or whenever the vote concludes. i will now recognize myself. said that state
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departments helping to prioritize the most vulnerable in syria, yet in syria, my understanding is that in fiscal year 2015, only 29 people were christians. inould think christians syria are some of the most value -- but honorable people. vulnerable people. i agree with you that christians in the middle east are some of the most honorable people, especially in ntrolled areas. that is one reason we have brought 40% of christians or other minorities -- rep. chaffetz: i would appreciate it if you got back to me on this. i would spend a half-hour going back to me if i could. ms. richard: we are bringing christians from syria. they are underrepresented because they make up a smaller percentage of the refugees. rep. chaffetz: and that is the
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problem. ms. richard: they are not fleeing -- rep. chaffetz: i am done with that question. i am moving on. i want you to get back to us. ms. bond, you wrote that the department has revoked approximately 122,000 visas for a variety of reasons, including 9500 for suspected links to terrorism. how many of those people are still in the united states? ms. bond: i don't know. rep. chaffetz: doesn't that scare you? peopled: many of these were not in the united states when we revoked them. rep. chaffetz: you have no idea how many of those people are in the united states. of the revoked visas, do you give them to homeland security? ms. bond: exactly. rep. chaffetz: homeland security, how many revoked visas are still in the united states of america? mr. bersin: i do not have that
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-- rep. chaffetz: you do not have a clue. these are people that state departments, state departments who gave the visa, thought about, gave more information, and decided, we better revoke that. 9500 were tied to terrorists. you do not have a clue who they are. understand please that i head of the office of policy. the operational components that would have that information -- rep. chaffetz: when will i get that information? if the operational representatives have that information, we will provide it to you when the hearing starts up again. if not, we will get it to you as soon as we can. mr. rodriguez, do you have anything to add to that? mr. rodriguez: we are not the operational component. i don't. rep. chaffetz: ok. is a visa overstay a key indicator of a threat to public safety and potential terrorism? mr. bersin: it could be
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depending on the facts. given the number of people involved who come into this country who are processed, i do not expect it is a large fraction at all. terroristetz: of the attacks that have happened in the united states, it has been a disproportionate number, hasn't it? how quickly we forget about 9/11 . 19 of those people were visa overstays. is that correct? it is not even in the top three priorities for the secretary of homeland security. that is what i have a problem with. of november 20, 2014, the secretary outlines category -- and i want you to understand what i am seeing. this is not the top priority for removal, but number two. should not be removed unless there are factors the alien is not a threat to
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national security, border security, or public safety, and should not, therefore, be an enforcement priority." i do not know how you come to that conclusion. first of all, they are here illegally. that should be enough in my book. you -- offense of domestic violence. sexual abuse or exploitation. burglary. unlawful possession of a firearm. drug distribution or trafficking. driving under the influence. and that is not an automatic deportation? you have got to be kidding me. and to think that they might -- do you think that is terrorism if a woman is raped? do you? mr. bersin: do i think that that is terrorism? no, but it is an egregious,
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horrible crime. rep. chaffetz: it is for that woman. it is for that family. and you do not support them. how do you do that? you give them an excuse to make a decision and put some poor officer to say, maybe they should go ahead and stay here in this country? we had more than 66,000 criminal aliens in your control and you let them go. you did not deport them. you let them go. why did you do that? mr. bersin: mr. chairman, the policy provides that if they are a threat to national security or border security, public safety, that they are eligible -- rep. chaffetz: give me a scenario when a woman gets raped and a person is here illegally, they are not a threat to public safety. mr. bersin: i did not say that. rep. chaffetz: that is what the memo says. mr. bersin: it says that unless they are not a threat to border security --
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rep. chaffetz: how are they not a threat to public safety? mr. rodriguez: if a woman is raped and the perpetrator is convicted of rape, that is a felony. that is a serious crime. that is a top priority. rep. chaffetz: it is not the top priority. it is priority number two for the department of homeland security. that is what it says in the memo. mr. rodriguez: that person would be removed. rep. chaffetz: it does not say that. it says "unless there are factors indicating the person is not a threat." jeh johnson went on to tell people that if you commit rape, if you are in a dui situation, do not deport these people. mr. rodriguez: respectfully, i do not think you are reading that proper -- that policy correctly. that is a removable offense. -- and itetz: unless
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is priority from number two. i'm going to give you a copy to read. i want to understand why you let 66,000 criminal aliens remain in the united states of america. that is a threat to the homeland. that is a threat of terrorism. that is a threat to every american. those people should be priorities for removal. you had them in your possession and you let them go. you did not deport them. >> i just want a copy of whatever you are reading from so that we know what you are talking about. i will make sure all witnesses have a copy. rep. cummings. : i just want to make sure we have it. can we get it quickly? rep. chaffetz: yes. i now recognize the gentlewoman from new york.
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representative: the chairman says how quickly we all forget 9/11. i want to publicly thank all the members of congress remembering 9/11 by including the omnibus which we will be voting on tomorrow. that is a wonderful way to remember 9/11, by providing permanent health care to the heroes and heroines and survivors of 9/11, those who risked lives to save others. it was a bipartisan effort and one we could all agree on. i think we can all agree that we need to really work together on this whole area. the question earlier, the woman who came in from pakistan who became a terrorist, they did not find her in the database. according to a report from the ig in 2015 from the department of homeland security, they said
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tsa did not identify 73 people who had links to terrorism. i find that very troubling. report,g to this ig's this happened because tsa was not authorized to receive full information from the terrorist database run by the national counterterrorism center. i think we have two main questions. dangerous,people are we have to figure out how to get them into the database. it is extremely troubling that they are in the database and yet , whichis given to them happened in this particular case. bersin,like to ask mr. can you briefly explain why tsa did not have access to all the information in the database,
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which would have kept 73 people out of the country who had links to terrorism? mr. bersin: the 73 people referenced in the report were people who were credentialed to be in critical infrastructure. of equal importance, but this was not a visa situation. subsequent investigation demonstrated those 73 were not known as suspected terrorists. the larger point that you make, , ish is tsa access to data something that is under consideration. i believe a policy decision remitting that access could be made and is certainly under consideration right now. rep. maloney: it seems to me that you have got to have access. if people do not have access to decisions about people coming into the country, i think that is something we can all agree on. we certainly want legitimate visitors, but anyone on a
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terrorist watch list, we should not be granting access. can you give me any reason why tsa should not have access? you are saying it is a consideration. why in the world would tsa not have access to this counterterrorism list? it is their role to decide who comes in and who doesn't. mr. bersin: it is the policy position of dhs, including tsa, that it have access to the database. rep. maloney: do they have it? mr. bersin: yes. they are authorized to receive that information directly. rep. maloney: but they are not receiving it. mr. bersin: at this moment, no. that policy is under review and i believe a decision would be made shortly. rep. maloney: who will make that decision? mr. bersin: it will be an interagency process. rep. maloney: who has the
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ultimate decision, the state department? mr. bersin: ultimately, the secretary would work with his counterparts in the cabinet and it would be a decision that would be made by the interagency of the united states government. heads theey: who interagency of the u.s. government? mr. bersin: at the end of the process, the president. rep. maloney: the president of the united states. mr. bersin: what this would be decided in the process of the national security council, headed by ambassador rice. rep. maloney: i think this should be changed immediately. it seems like a bureaucratic thing. do you have any sense of when they will make this decision? mr. bersin: the best i can offer you is shortly. rep. maloney: well, i would like the committee to send a letter. i will send one of my own
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expressing that this policy change should take place. let me ask one brief question. which entity has the final say on whether a visa applicant is approved to receive a visa? ms. richard: the department of state issues the visa when every part of the interagency clearance has cleared and there are no objections or red lights. over thenot issue objection of one of the interagency partners. rep. maloney: my time is expired. rep. chaffetz: the committee is going to go to witness. -- two recess. witnesses are devised that we will reconvene no sooner than five minutes after 11:00 and we will pick up from there. the committee stands in recess. i wanted to recognize you for a moment. you wanted to clarify something. mr. bersin: two points.
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the last set of questions and aloney had toms. m do with the axis of tsa to time data. i talked about a policy change that was underway. ,n a manual, case-by-case basis that has been done from time to time. the policy change that i am confident the member of congress would be pleased to hear is that this has to do with automated data. of tsa to tide's the second matter was, in , iponding to mr. walberg indicated that the number of in theys were 400,000-500,000 range. that is correct, but my staff is correcting me. i apparently misheard. this relates to both the visa waiver program and also to all visas. so it is not just the visa waiver program. there are approximately
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400,000-500,000 overstays, but when the overstay report does come, and mr. lynch is entitled to be skeptical, but i believe it is an root to congress -- en route to congress, it will indicate and overstay that is considerably lower than the number i have suggested inaccurately in my testimony. thank you, sir. rep. chaffetz: i appreciate the clarification. we now recognize the gentleman from texas for five minutes. bersin, youve: mr. talked about the various watch lists that were coordinated and maintained as a result of 9/11. someonetalk about how gets on one of those watch lists? there is a formal process. there is only one consolidated terrorist watchlist in the
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united states. the way that happens is an interagency rosses. any agency can nominate and there are movements that govern a name on the terrorist watch list. rep. farentold: does there have to be some level of proof? or is it based on suspicion? mr. bersin: the standard that is followed for most all cases is reasonable subscription -- suspicion. there are other placements based on a couple of other factors that are smaller for various immigration or other reasons. rep. farentold: so it is pretty easy to get somebody on the list. what about getting off the list? if, for some reason, i would put on the list -- i were put on the
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list, how is he it be to get off? be to gety would it off? mr. bersin: there is a subset, which is the way people typically know they are on the list, if they are not permitted to fly abroad were on the united states. that is a redress process people can apply to to ask to be removed. rep. farentold: how long does that process take? mr. bersin: it is an extended process. rep. farentold: are we talking years? mr. bersin: it depends on the application. rep. farentold: and there are american citizens on this list. mr. bersin: yes, sir. rep. farentold: do you know how many? mr. bersin: the number is a very small fraction. rep. farentold: but there is a substantial number. thanersin: there are less
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.1%, i am told, with regard to the no-fly list. rep. farentold: my concern is there has been a lot of talk recently about using these watchlists for purposes other than they are intended. for instance, determining whether or not americans are able to exercise their rights under the second amendment. do you think it is appropriate that these lists be used outside of what they were designed for? rep. chaffetz: i have not -- rep. farentold: i have not heard that. countryming into this for a visa, that is done in the council services division, right? >> that is right. is not theold: that entry-level job that almost
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everyone in the state department has to start off and do a stint in counselor services. almost everyone will serve in a consular tour in their first ever second -- first or second to. rep. farentold: for how long? ms. bond: two years. rep. farentold: how many folks who are screening folks coming into the united states have been there for an extended time or have a high level of experience? aretestify that they adequately trained, but it is everybody's first two-year stint. i assume that most people do not choose to stay there. .s. bond: i didn't the officers, as they arrive at ast, if they are doing this a first experience, a first consular tour, they are very carefully monitored. rep. farentold: i am running out of time. i have a question for ms. richard. ms. bond: when we come into the foreign service, we come in ina
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cone. approximately 20% are consular service officers. rep. farentold: when we are admitting refugees into the united states from folks -- areas like syria, do we talk to the governors or anybody within the states? i know that governor added in in texas is none too pleased about some folks who are being resettled in texas. i. richard: every governor, think 49 of them have a state refugee coordinator that is making sure that the governor's office talked to the local groups that are helping to resettled refugees. rep. farentold: but they have no authority to stop it or any formal process for expressing concerns. they are basically just informed. ms. richard: we insist that our local partners consult with local government officials,
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including the state refugee coordinator. they should be consulted. rep. farentold: can you give me a definition of what consulted means? i am out of time. just give me an idea of what that means. ms. richard: who is coming, how many, where they are going. rep. farentold: so it is just a one-way notification. the states do not have a lot of opportunity. thank you very much. i yield back. rep. chaffetz: i will now recognize the gentleman from illinois. representative: how long is the training process for the new foreign services officers who end up in consular services? >> the officers going off for the first time take a training course that is six weeks long. here --oreign institute foreign services institute here and then, after arriving, they normally engage in the process that each post sets up
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of course, we have more experienced officers, and the and decisions, issuances deferrals, are reviewed by more senior officers and are the basis of discussion to talk about what the officer looked at, what they based their decision on, what questions they might have considered or pursued. there is, of course, an ongoing training program as people are settling into the job. rep. duckworth: approximately equivalent to an infantryman who goes to basic training, and we send him to combat, under the supervision of more experienced leaders. if we can trust our young americans to go to combat, i think we can trust our consular


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