New law cuts $3B for border security

The Defense appropriations bill that passed Congress Nov. 8 did not include an amendment to provide $3 billion for border security that included funds for unmanned aerial vehicles and ground sensors.

The border security amendment, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), was approved by the Senate in a 95-1 vote Oct. 3. When House and Senate leaders negotiated the final terms of the bill in recent weeks, they removed the border security provision and its funding. The Defense fiscal 2008 spending bill passed the House, 400-15, and the Senate in a voice vote, Nov. 8.

President Bush signed the bill into law today.

Graham said last week he was disappointed that the border security funds were stripped from the final bill.

“The amendment that I offered, supported by all my colleagues here, passed 95-1. Only in Washington would that be a mixed signal,” he said at a Nov. 7 press conference.

Under Graham’s amendment, there would have been funding for 700 miles of fencing, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors, vehicle barriers and other technology with the goal of reaching operational control of the borders. In addition, there would be money for enforcement and detention of illegal immigrants.

“There is no doubt we need better border security at our southern border, including more boots on the ground, more miles of fencing, better technology which acts as a force multiplier, additional detention beds, and unmanned aerial vehicles,” said Graham in a statement Oct. 3. “My amendment provides funding for these important and much-needed changes in federal policy.”

The Defense bill provides $460.3 million for Pentagon programs, including $11.6 billion in emergency spending for additional mine-resistant vehicles.

The vehicles are produced by companies including Navistar International and General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics.

Last month General Dynamics Land Systems received a $188.8 million work order from Force Protection to produce 401 of the vehicles for the Marine Corps.

Alice Lipowicz writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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