Senate panel advances $47B bill to fund Homeland Security

Senate panel advances $47B bill to fund Homeland Security

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a $47.1 billion bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Coast Guard and other agencies in fiscal 2016, which starts Oct. 1.

The bill contains a base of $40.2 billion, which is $543 million more than 2015 and $1.18 billion less than President Obama’s request.

The GOP-led panel advanced it in a 26-4 vote.


Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the bill, said the measure prioritizes funding for border security, cybersecurity, the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and disaster mitigation.

“Supporting the critical missions of DHS — whether it is aviation security, immigration enforcement, disaster response, counterterrorism activities or any other mission — means getting the right mix of people and technology on the task,” Hoeven said. “We have worked very hard in a bipartisan way to achieve that mix in this important legislation.”

The legislation includes $160 million in emergency funds for the Coast Guard and $6.7 billion for a disaster relief fund operated by FEMA.

Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the TSA and the Secret Service are among the agencies that would receive funding in the bill.

Under the measure, the Secret Service would receive a $258 million funding boost, which would support activities related to the 2016 campaign as well as detail for Obama when he leaves office. The bill allocates funding that a panel recommended in reviewing the Secret Service’s internal problems.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the ranking member on the subcommittee that oversees the bill, offered an amendment that would fulfill the administration’s funding request for the bill if sequestration is lifted in the future.

Under the circumstances, however, Shaheen said, “I think [Sen. Hoeven] has done a very good job with the allocation he’s been given.”

The panel rejected Shaheen’s proposal.

The panel adopted an amendment from Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) that would bring Poland into a visa-waiver program.

“It’s the best way to show Vladimir Putin that the United States is getting closer and closer to Poland as he gets closer and closer to Ukraine," Kirk said.