U.S. Attorney General William Barr goes before a House appropriations subcommittee Tuesday where he is expected to face some questions about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
The Mueller report is not the purpose of the meeting, and in a prepared statement released ahead of the session Barr does not mention it.
Instead, the topic of his appearance is the Trump administration’s proposed budget for the Justice Department for the fiscal year that begins in October.
Barr does highlight Justice Department efforts to protect future elections from foreign interference, saying securing elections is a key issue for the agency.
“I believe that our country must respond to any foreign interference with the strongest measures, and we must work with partners at the state level to ensure that our election infrastructure is completely protected,” his statement says.
Other national security initiatives in the 2020 budget request include counterterrorism efforts and combating cyber attacks. Barr’s statement mentions $16 million for a vetting program for those who wish to enter or remain in the United States, something he says will help the government “identify terrorists, criminals and other nefarious actors.”
Immigration enforcement is another main portion of the department’s proposed budget.
“As I’ve stated before, in order to ensure that our immigration system works properly, we must secure our nation’s borders, and we must ensure that our laws allow us to process, hold, and remove those who violate our immigration laws,” Barr says.
The budget request includes $72 million for added border security and enforcement activities. If Congress agrees, there would be 100 new immigration judges, which the attorney general says are necessary to help address a backlog of about 820,000 pending cases nationwide.
A final key section in Barr’s statement is additional money to combat the opioid epidemic. He says the number of overdose deaths is too high, and that the situation represents not only a public health crisis but also a need to address trafficking of illegal drugs.