White House says spending bill threatens homeland security

The White House formally outlined its problems with the House GOP homeland security funding bill in a Statement of Administration Policy on Tuesday.

The appropriations bill is due on the House floor on Friday and its provisions related to Federal Emergency Management Agency grants and the FEMA disaster relief fund have proven the most controversial.

On disaster relief, the bill directs the president to find a way to pay for any emergency disaster funding. Specifically, it directs the president to submit a budget request or supplemental appropriation request with offsets if the FEMA fund reaches a low balance.

The White House says it would view this direction as “advisory,” a sign it does not intend to obey it necessarily.

The administration says that the FEMA grant cuts will “adversely impact the entire portfolio of preparedness grants,” and result in the loss of 2,220 firefighter positions. It says it supports the GOP proposal to give the homeland security secretary more flexibility in the awarding of the grants, however.

The Federal Air Marshal Service will have to be cut back, and 275 body scanners will not be deployed, the administration notes.

The bill also will delay the consolidation of DHS headquarters by two years, and if it continues to contain language blocking the transfer of Guantanamo Bay inmates to Federal Courts, the administration will “oppose” the bill, it says.