Senate advances Commerce, Homeland spending bills

The Commerce, Justice, Science bill was approved on an unanimous voice vote, although Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he would vote against CJS in full committee in protest of the overall budget allocation the Senate is using.

The Homeland Security bill passed on a 9 to 2 vote with Shelby and subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Coats (R-Ind.) voting against the bill.  

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Both bills will come to the full committee this week. 

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said the House CJS bill is inadequate pretty much across the board, from export promotion to funding police officers. 

“There is not one item, oh wow. It’s the entire CJS,” she said. “There’s a marked difference of $5 billion.”

But she signaled that if the top-line budget difference of $91 billion between the House and Senate is resolved, the CJS bill could quickly come together. She offered praise for the approach the chairman of the House Appropriations CJS subcommittee, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.)

“I think if Congressman Wolf were here, I think we are in agreement on the core national priorities,” she said. “What we don’t agree is on these numbers and these numbers are a result of powers above us.”

The Mikulski CJS bill spends $52.3 billion, which is $5.4 billion above the House level. Her subcommittee points out that the Senate is providing $567 million more in 2014 for local law enforcement and continues the COPS hiring program which the House ends. The Senate bill has $1.4 billion more in funding for NASA and $430 million more for the National Science Foundation.

Shelby praised the level of National Aeronautics and Space Administration funding in the bill, as well as language that could stop the Commerce department from preventing fishing of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. He said he fought for and received new safeguards on NASA spending in the bill. 

But the ranking member will stick with his party leadership on the overall allocation and vote against CJS, he said. 

The Homeland Security bill produced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (R-La.) is more similar to the House version, with difference amounting to about $200 million.