Statement On FY23 Funding Request For The FBI, And Remarks On The Texas School Shooting

Twenty-one victims.  Twenty-one families, waking up this morning with a hole in their hearts.  Nineteen children.  Murdered. Gun violence is an epidemic that cannot be overstated.  It cannot be ignored.  It cannot be hidden behind the guise of an unassailable Second Amendment argument.  I am not politicizing this moment.  I am not over reacting.  I am angry.  Angry that 19 more children, and two adults fighting to protect them, have been murdered. I am angry that today, Congress is willing to just accept that these mass shootings are just another breaking news story, and part of our daily lives.

I have owned firearms, responsibly, my entire life.  I support a strong Second Amendment.  But simple common sense, and what should be our shared humanity, compel us to not simply quietly acknowledge this crisis, but to do something about it.  Nearly 10 years ago, a murderer took the lives of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook.  I led the Senate Judiciary Committee’s action to advance legislation to help address the epidemic of gun violence.  Over two years ago, as then Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I worked to break through the years long refusal to provide the CDC and the NIH with resources to simply study the roots of gun violence.  We need more action!  Not next week, not next month, not next year—now!  How many more people will die before we say enough is enough.  I am saying it today—enough.

Director Wray, thank you for being here today. As the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you have a critically important job—to protect our country from threats of terrorism and crimes, both foreign and domestic, and to do so while upholding the rights and values that make this the greatest democracy. I do not envy the task.

The heinous mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month is a stark reminder that domestic terrorism is still very much present in the United States. It is also a somber reminder that the majority of domestic terrorism perpetrated against innocent Americans is driven by those espousing white supremacist and racist ideologies. This is not a controversial statement—it is a simple fact.

This is what makes this moment so dangerous. When facts are distorted into untruths, and parroted by those with the pulpit to do so, we tread dangerously far from the core tenants of our democracy.  When we cannot clearly and unequivocally condemn the actions of white supremacists, or simply acknowledge the January 6, 2021, attack on our Capitol for what it was—an insurrection—we fan the flames of hatred and violence, allowing them to grow.

This is alarming to me, and should be to every American.  And it further highlights the importance of the work of the dedicated men and women at the Bureau, and of your leadership there, Director Wray.  Each year, this Appropriations Committee wrestles with how best to dedicate valuable taxpayer dollars.  Your mission is not only worthy of the investment—it commands it.  In exchange, of course, we expect the FBI to confront, forcefully and head on, the threats of domestic terrorism.  Through the political discourse and disagreement, we expect you to faithfully and fully adhere to the rule of law—to investigate wherever crime is committed, and to work with the Department of Justice, and state and local law enforcement, to hold the perpetrators of any crime accountable.  As I said earlier—I do not envy your task.  But I stand ready to support you.

Thank you, Chair Shaheen, and Senator Moran, for having this hearing today.

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