Full House panel backs effort to slash Homeland Security funds
By a voice vote, the committee approved $30.8 billion in discretionary funding for the department, setting the stage for a floor vote Tuesday. The panel also gave voice-vote approval to $26.2 billion for Interior programs.
Lawmakers from both parties agreed to cut some Homeland funds to send a message that requests for information cannot be ignored.
"At times, the department has made the mistake of assuming the appropriators are simply here to rubber stamp their budgets," said Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. "The department has repeatedly ignored congressional requests for information and has disregarded information direction to implement critical national policies and directives."
The department is late on 123 of 169 reports mandated in the fiscal 2005 Homeland Security spending measure, according to the committee's report on the department's 2006 appropriations bill.
The panel agreed to cut $466 million from the president's request for the Deepwater program -- a 20-year multi-billion-dollar initiative to modernize the Coast Guard's cutter and helicopter fleets.
Also, the Transportation Security Administration could have $100,000 less every day after enactment until the agency meets a requirement from last year to triple the percentage of screened cargo. And the agency would not receive $50 million until it delivers a plan to purchase and deploy explosive-detection equipment at airports.
Under the measure, TSA would receive $5.7 billion next year, slightly more than the $5.6 billion Bush proposed. The agency received $5.3 billion for 2005.
The measure would increase funding for border security efforts, adding $1.2 billion above 2005 funding level for the customs and border protection and immigration enforcement divisions.
The panel also approved $3.6 billion for first responders; $7.5 billion for the Coast Guard; $1.3 billion for the science and technology division and $861 million for activities to protect critical infrastructure and intelligence gathering.
For the Interior Department's programs, the committee approved $800 million less than 2005 funding levels, but about $435 million above the amount recommended by the Bush administration.