Christopher A. Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D.C.
April 11, 2024

Director Wray's Opening Statement to the House Appropriations Committee

As prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Cartwright, and Members of the Committee.

I’m proud to be here today representing the 38,000 men and women who make up the FBI. Every day, our people are working relentlessly to outpace our adversaries and stay ahead of complex and evolving threats. So I’d first like to thank you for your support over the years of our efforts to achieve our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.

At the same time, I also realize the reality of the environment we’re in today, where so many agencies are dealing with tightening budgets—and this year, the FBI is one of those agencies. With our fiscal year 2024 budget having now come in almost $500 million dollars below what the FBI needs just to sustain our 2023 efforts.

Candidly, this could not come at a worse time.

When I sat here last year, I walked through how we were already in a heightened threat environment.

Since then, we’ve seen the threat from foreign terrorists rise to a whole ‘nother level after October 7; we continue to see the cartels push fentanyl and other dangerous drugs into every corner of the country, claiming countless American lives; we’ve seen a spate of ransomware and other cyberattacks impacting parts of our critical infrastructure and businesses large and small; violent crime, which reached alarming levels coming out of the pandemic, remains far too high and is impacting far too many communities; China continues its relentless efforts to steal our intellectual property and most valuable information.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Looking back over my career in law enforcement, I’d be hard pressed to think of a time where so many threats to our public safety and national security were so elevated all at once. But that is the case as I sit here today.

And while we’ve always found ways at the FBI to innovate and make the most with what we have, this is by no means a time to let up or dial back. This is a time when we need your support the most—we need all the tools, all the people, and all the resources required to tackle these threats and to keep Americans safe. To take each of those in turn—the tools, the people, and the resources.

First—an absolutely indispensable tool Congress can give us in our fight against foreign adversaries is the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It’s critical in securing our nation, and we’re in crunch time with our 702 authority set to expire next week. So, let me be clear: failure to reauthorize 702—or gutting it with some kind of new warrant requirement—would be dangerous and put American lives at risk.

Second—we need people. I’ll stack the FBI’s workforce up against anyone, anywhere, at any time. They’re innovative, they’re efficient, they’re relentless—and they’re patriots. And we’ve been fortunate at the FBI in recent years that our recruiting has gone through the roof. Americans are applying in droves to devote their lives to a career with us protecting others. But we need more positions to be able to bring all the good people we can to the fight—certainly not fewer. Now is not the time to cut back; it’s time to lean forward. 

Third—we need resources, which you’ll see in the 2025 budget request we’re here today to discuss. We need funding to protect America from terrorism—I touched on this earlier, but there was already a heightened risk of violence in the United States before October 7. Since then, we’ve seen a rogue’s gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies. Given those calls for action, our most immediate concern has been that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home.

But now increasingly concerning is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall a couple weeks ago.

We also need funding to counter the threat from the People’s Republic of China—a government sparing no expense in its quest to hack, lie, cheat, and steal its way to the top as a global superpower and to undermine our democracy and our economic success.

We need funding to counter cyber threats—certainly those from China, but also from a crowded field of sophisticated criminals and other hostile nation-states like Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

We need funding to mitigate the range of threats emanating from the border—fentanyl, gangs like MS-13, and human trafficking.

We need funding to address the violent crime that remains at levels in this country that are still too high.

And we need funding to keep going after child predators and to rescue young victims from their tormentors.

In all these areas I just mentioned, we’re working closely with our partners at all levels of government to achieve our shared goals of keeping our communities safe.

Every day, FBI agents, analysts, and professional staff are working shoulder to shoulder with thousands of task force officers from hundreds of different police departments and sheriffs’ offices all over the country on our FBI-led task forces. On top of that, we provide technology and expertise, valuable investigative leads like DNA matches, and cutting-edge training to law enforcement nationwide to help them protect Americans from harm.

So cuts to us are cuts to our partners—state and local law enforcement agencies and officers who are on the ground, putting themselves in the line of fire—often quite literally. And that’s just one way those cuts are going to have real impacts on the American people.

Yes, we took a hit in the 2024 budget. But the 2025 budget is a chance to get back on track to provide the FBI’s men and women the tools and resources the American people need us to have to keep them safe.

Thank you again for having me here today, and I look forward to our discussion.