House panel seeks homeland spending boost

House Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $32 billion Homeland Security Department spending plan for fiscal 2005 that includes increases for several agencies involved in technology research and development.

The bill, which was approved after a full committee markup June 9, is $2.8 billion more than the department's fiscal 2004 appropriations and $896 million higher than what the Bush administration's requested.

In a prepared statement, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee, said while a significant amount has been accomplished, there's more that needs to be done.

"It is important that we provide the money and the tools to continue progress in areas such as container security, critical infrastructure protection and border security," he said. "We must also provide DHS with the tools and resources to respond to the ever-changing threat environment. The bill before us today does just that. It supports ongoing work and includes initiatives to move us closer to our goals of prevention, preparedness and response."

The budget proposes $1.1 billion for research and development (R&D) and deployment of new technologies. Some highlights include:

$547 million to develop chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-explosive countermeasures.

$76 million for rapid development and prototyping of technologies.

$61 million for R&D and testing of antimissile devices for commercial aircraft.

$16 million for container security research.

$65 million for bio-surveillance activities, including environmental sensors in large metropolitan areas.

$70 million for university-based centers of excellence.

The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate would get $855 million, including $67.4 million for cybersecurity and $35 million for the Homeland Security Operations Center, which will allow DHS officials to monitor activity nationwide. Of the money allocated for the center, $10 million is earmarked for secure communications with state and local governments.

The budget also proposes $4.1 billion for first-responder funding, including $1.25 billion for basic formula grants and $1 billion for high-density urban areas. It also includes $600 million for firefighters, $500 million for state and local law enforcement terrorism prevention grants, and $125 million for port security grants.

Other technology highlights are:

$1.4 billion for baggage screening, including $269 million to install explosive-detection systems and $170 million to buy additional systems and next-generation technologies.

$828 million to modernize border, customs and immigration information technology, including $340 million for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program.

$679 million for the U.S. Coast Guard's Deepwater fleet modernization program.

$166 million for vehicle and cargo inspection technologies.

$118.4 million for air cargo security, including more personnel and R&D of cutting-edge technologies.

$74 million for border security technology, including surveillance and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The bill, however, includes language that would bar funds for implementation of the controversial Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System II until certain privacy requirements are met.

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