Securing the homeland from the threat of terrorism

In the past few weeks alone, terrorists linked to or inspired by ISIS have carried out deadly attacks against innocent men, women and children in the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq, Australia and Iran. Last night, I spoke on the Senate floor to offer my thoughts and prayers to the innocent victims of these attacks and their families.

Moments after I finished speaking, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution condemning these barbaric terrorist attacks and offering the condolences of the United States Senate to the victims and their families. No matter where you’re from, terrorist attacks on families and children at concerts, out for dinner, or shopping in the market strike at our hearts, and unite us in our shared desire to protect our families and loved ones.

These heinous acts of terror around the world remind us of the security vulnerabilities of public places and ‘soft targets’ here in the United States. Unfortunately, the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security cuts more than $800 million in grant funding for state and local first responders to prepare for major disasters and emergencies. The budget proposal also zeroes out DHS’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts to combat radicalization and homegrown terrorism. This approach is nothing short of penny wise and pound foolish.

Instead of focusing on funding efforts to protect our communities and prepare emergency response officials, the Trump Administration is requesting $1.5 billion for immigration enforcement and $1.6 billion to begin construction of the border wall. At the same time, it cuts funding for a vital transportation program that helps keep Americans safe and secure at airports and transportation hubs.

This administration’s narrow focus on removing undocumented immigrants, including those who pose no threat to public safety, and on building an exorbitantly expensive and ineffective wall comes at the cost of other major security priorities and, ultimately, Americans’ safety.

As Congress negotiates funding for the next fiscal year in the months ahead, I’ll continue to remind my colleagues in Congress and this administration that the real threat to our communities and families doesn’t come from undocumented immigrants, but from lone wolf and ISIS-inspired attacks like the ones we’ve seen around the world.