FBI investigations will continue unimpeded if the federal government shuts down, but training and new initiatives would be “put on the back burner,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday.
“It is taking a substantial amount of effort [for] our administrative people today to try to anticipate what will happen if there is a government shutdown,” Mueller told the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice and science subcommittee. “And that effort, which could be spent elsewhere, will continue to have to be spent as a result of whatever shutdown there is in the days and the weeks to come.”
The most recent continuing resolution funding the federal government expires Friday and negotiators from the Obama administration and Congress appear to be deadlocked.
Uncertainty over funding for government agencies has led to low morale at the FBI, Mueller said.
“A number of our persons don’t know whether they will be here on Monday,” the FBI Director said. “They don’t know whether they’ll get paid. And that is tremendously disruptive to somebody who has given their service to someplace like the bureau.”
He said the continuing resolutions that have funded the government on a temporary basis since Oct. 1 are “tremendously frustrating” and he urged appropriators to fully fund his agency for fiscal 2011 instead of temporarily financing the agency for another time this fiscal year.
The FBI has run under a $7.8 billion budget since December 2009. The Justice Department asked for $8.2 billion for the FBI in its budget for fiscal 2011, which started on Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30.
Mueller also said he believes the FBI is being shortchanged compared with other intelligence agencies. The bureau should be treated the same as the Defense Department in a congressional proposal for what would be the seventh continuing resolution, Mueller said. The proposed stopgap measure would finance the Defense Department until the end of fiscal 2011, while funding all other agencies on a temporary basis.
“I can only say that under the proposed CR, the FBI would be the only major partner in the intelligence community that is not fully funded while our intelligence community partners would be able to proceed with planned initiatives and programs, the bureau could not,” Mueller said.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the subcommittee, said his panel has directed staff working on the continuing resolution to protect the FBI. He said his subcommittee will “do anything we possibly can” to safeguard the FBI during the budget negotiations.