Congress looks to add IT funds

The House is expected to take up a $29.4 billion emergency fiscal 2002 spending bill next week that includes extra money for information technology. But lawmakers in the Senate already are signaling they think even more money is needed for homeland security programs.

The House Appropriations Committee approved an anti-terrorism package late on May 15 that includes $1.6 billion for intelligence and other classified activities as well as $3.85 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, $550 million below the administration's request.

Among the projects earmarked for funding:

* $630 million for explosives detection systems, including explosive trace detection systems for screening checked baggage.

* $75 million for grants to port authorities to enhance security at U.S. commercial ports.

* $12 million for additional port vulnerability assessments.

* $88 million for increased security needs at the Energy Department's science laboratories.

* $18 million for secure transportation of nuclear weapons and materials.

* $112 million for the FBI to investigate and thwart further terrorist attacks, including $44 million for investigative data warehousing and data mining tools.

The Senate is expected to take up the spending bill after the Memorial Day recess, and some lawmakers are saying that even more money should be earmarked to programs to protect America and its population.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), for instance, said that she generally supports the appropriations bill. But she indicated that even more money should be available for critical initiatives to protect American shores.

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