DHS grants bill could be bipartisan

House Select Committee on Homeland Security

House Republicans and Democrats on the Select Committee on Homeland Security are talking about collaborating on legislation meant to streamline the homeland security funding process for first responders.

A committee spokeswoman declined to say whether two separate bills — introduced by Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), who chairs the committee, and ranking minority member Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas) — would be merged. "All I can say is that Chairman Cox and Ranking Member Turner are collaborating on the legislation," she said.

But a Democratic staffer said it's likely that negotiations on combining the bills will begin this week, and a new one will be reintroduced within two weeks. Cox is committed to getting something out, the staffer said.

Both bills are designed to address problems in applying and dispersing such funds to state, local and tribal police, fire and emergency medical workers. At a recent hearing, homeland security experts and government officials largely responded positively to the proposals as steps in the right direction.

Cox's bill — H.R. 3266, or the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act — would essentially reduce a 12-step grant process to two steps. It would award grants to states and regions based on vulnerability threats to an area, not on a population. H.R. 3266 would provide money for first responders to buy or upgrade existing equipment and pay for emergency preparedness and prevention training. The Cox measure would require recipients to pass 80 percent to locals 45 days after receipt.

The Republican bill would create an advisory council to advise Homeland Security officials on whether federal standards are needed for particular first responder equipment or training. It proposes to modify the color-coded threat advisory system so warnings can be issued in particular geographic locations based on intelligence.

Cox's bill only affects homeland security grant programs established after Sept. 11, 2001, and administered by the Homeland Security Department's Office of State and Local Coordination.

Like the Republican-sponsored legislation, Turner's bill — H.R. 3158, or the Preparing America to Respond Effectively Act of 2003 — calls for reforming the color-coded threat advisory system and establishing a task force on creating national standards so state and local governments can determine their needs.

H.R. 3158 also would require DHS officials to ensure first responder equipment and training standards are developed and equipment is interoperable. It would authorize $20 million to provide every state and major metropolitan area immediately capability for radio communications interoperability using commercial off-the-shelf technology for the different agencies, according to the staffer.

Other provisions that were not included in Cox's bill permit state and local governments to apply for overtime expenses related to homeland security and funding for personnel, the staffer said.

Turner's bill also supports security clearances for state and local law enforcement officials to receive and use classified intelligence data and stresses the importance of providing training and education to public volunteers, private sector companies, and public elementary and secondary schools to prepare and respond to emergencies.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.


  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group