One of Congress’ primary duties is oversight of the executive branch. President Biden recently marked his first 100 days in office. This column will highlight the parts of his record during that time that demand accountability.
The southern border is a place that desperately needs oversight. Since assuming office, President Biden and his team have created a crisis while largely ignoring it, flip-flopping on whether they even call it a crisis.
President Biden recently told NBC News, “We’ve now gotten control,” but the numbers indicate otherwise. U.S. Customs and Border Protection projects that two million migrants will cross the border during fiscal year 2021, four times the number in fiscal year 2020. In March alone, 172,331 migrants were apprehended at the border.
Of that number, 18,890 were unaccompanied minors, the largest number ever taken into custody in a month. Law requires them to be transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Oversight of that agency falls under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Health, of which I am a member.
The Border Patrol has also seized significant quantities of fentanyl, one of the opioid crisis’ deadly ingredients. The total weight of fentanyl seized at the southwest border in the first quarter of the year has surged 233 percent above the same period last year.
There is more to the story beyond the numbers. Many of the migrants rely on smugglers and traffickers to escort them to the border and suffer abuse at their hands. When taken into custody, they are detained in crowded facilities which enable the spread of COVID-19, and they are not tested for the coronavirus when released.
The surge has overwhelmed Border Patrol agents and taken them from their usual duties to process and care for apprehended migrants.
I am scheduled to visit the border soon and to see the conditions at an ORR facility with other Members of Congress.
In the meantime, I joined other House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans in seeking more information from Vice President Harris, appointed by President Biden as the border czar. After apprehension, unaccompanied minors are transferred to the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes ORR.
We need answers from the Vice President about the crowded conditions at ORR facilities, troubling reports of lapses in background checks of employees in contact with the minors, and inadequate vetting of sponsors who eventually assume custody of the minors.
President Biden has by all appearances opened the border, and he is ready to open the Federal Government’s checkbook, too. His Administration has unveiled a $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” proposal, which goes far beyond traditional infrastructure priorities such as roads and bridges, and a further $1.8 trillion plan aimed largely at increasing the role of the Federal Government in the lives of average Americans.
To pay for this sea of spending, President Biden wants to raise taxes. He claims to target only the wealthy and corporations, but his proposed tax increases will inevitably be passed onto middle- and lower-income families and individuals.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Republicans and signed by President Trump in 2017 led not only to lower taxes for most Americans but increased wages, reduced utility bills, and other benefits. He would undo these important tax reforms as our country continues to recover from a devastating pandemic.
Higher taxes will hurt jobs, but President Biden has already taken aim at American energy jobs by cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. More fossil fuel jobs will likely be lost now that he has rejoined the Paris climate agreement, which imposes restrictions on America now but allows China to increase emissions until 2030, and made new commitments. These lost jobs have ripple effects on the economies and government budgets of their communities.
The stories of the Americans hurt by President Biden’s energy policies need to be told. Energy and Commerce Republicans have regularly invited witnesses to testify about how the Biden Administration’s decisions would hurt people like them, from union workers losing job opportunities to local officials trying to provide public services.
President Biden’s first 100 days left a lot to be desired. I am committed to holding him accountable when he pursues an agenda that diminishes security, opportunity, and prosperity in our country.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671 or via email at website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.