E-Verify extension in contention

Senate, House funding bills provide different answers

The Senate and House would each extend the E-Verify program in their Homeland Security appropriations bills, but they differ on by how long. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would give E-Verify the three-year extension that President Barack Obama requested, and $118.5 million. The House Appropriations Committee's bill would extend it by only two years and provide the president's requested $112 million.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said she supports the E-Verify program. Employers use it to validate the legal status of their employees, but some immigration advocates argue that it pushes illegal immigrants underground. The extended authorization is expected to keep the program active until the government takes up comprehenisve immigration reform legislation.

Overall, the Senate measure would provide almost $42.93 billion for the department in fiscal 2010, while the House version would give the Homeland Security Department $42.63 billion. Both marks are close to the approximately $43 billion Obama requested. DHS got $39.98 billion in fiscal 2009.

The Senate bill would give DHS $398.7 million for cybersecurity programs for fiscal 2010. The House measure would allocate $382 million. DHS got $313.5 this year.

Meanwhile, the Senate version would give $800 million for Southwest Border investments for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology, according to a summary of the bill. The House version would offer just $692 million for Southwest Border investments, according to a summary of that bill.

The Senate and House bills also differ on funding for the department's plans to consolidate its many data centers into two secure locations. The House version would provide little money for the program while the Senate version would provide "significant" funding, The House's decision not to meet Obama's request for program was based on problems with the project that DHS' inspector general identified.

A report explaining the Senate measure said that the committee recommends spending not less than $82.8 million on data center development, drawing it out of the $152.4 million the chief information officer would get for security activities. The funding includes not less than $38.5 million for power capabilities upgrades at one data center. In the report, the committee said it "strongly supports the effort included in the request to move forward with data center consolidation."

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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