Senate panel would restore partial funding for DHS projects
The Senate Appropriations Committee would partially restore Homeland Security department fiscal 2012 funding for DHS' new headquarters in Washington, state and local preparedness grants and the Coast Guard, funding that had been cut in a House bill passed earlier this year.
The Senate panel’s action sets the stage for further negotiations with House lawmakers. For example, the Senate bill has $56 million for the headquarters project, according to a committee statement issued on Sept. 7. The House version approved on June 2 included no funding for the project for the year.
The Senate bill also would provide $8.9 billion for the Coast Guard, $63 million above the current level and $271 million above the House bill. Acquisition, construction, and improvements would get $1.4 billion, $125 million below current levels and $240 million above the House bill.
The Senate panel allocated $2.58 billion for state and local grants, which was $557 million above the House bill.
Homeland Security requests flat budget
Overall, the Senate bill includes $41 billion in discretionary budget authority, which is $2.6 billion below the president’s request and $666 million below this year’s appropriation. However, it was $408 million above what was passed by the House.
“This department must be capable of preparing for, deterring, and responding to all disasters, whether they are caused by attacks by enemies or the unpredictable ways of nature, or in the case of Katrina, failure to maintain adequate infrastructure,” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.
The Senate bill would provide $6 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, $3.35 billion above the fiscal 2011 level. Landrieu said the additional funding was needed because of a series of disasters in 47 states, including Hurricane Irene, flooding on the Mississippi River, tornados in the South, and wildfires in the South and West.
Other funding in the Senate appropriations bill included:
- $11.7 billion for Customs and Border Protection, which is $415 million above current levels. The total includes $400 million for border fencing and technology, which is $173 million below the fiscal 2011 level “due to significant delays in deploying technology along the border and excessive unobligated balances.”
- $7.9 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, which is $218 million above current levels and $83 million more than the House version. The money would pay for 275 additional Advanced Imaging Technology machines, among other expenses.
- $1.04 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency's operating expenses, which exceeds the president’s request by $31 million and $12 million above the House version. “This bill rejects proposed cuts to FEMA’s base for business and information technology systems which are critical to sustaining FEMA’s reform after the Post-Katrina Emergency Management and Reform Act,” the committee statement said.
- $450 million for cybersecurity efforts, an increase of $87 million above fiscal 2011.
- $297.4 million for the US-VISIT program, $36.5 million below fiscal 2011.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.