Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 19, 2005

Analysis of Katrina and bird flu spending bill

Filed under: Biosecurity,Budgets and Spending,Congress and HLS,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on December 19, 2005

As mentioned in this previous post, the Defense Appropriations bill passed today includes supplemental funding for the response to Katrina ($29 billion) and for avian flu preparedness ($3.79 billion). The final version of the bill is now available here, and the joint explanatory statement for the bill is here.

A couple of quick observations, by no means comprehensive, from a preliminary read of these two documents:

– Over 80% of the $29 billion for Katrina spending is NOT new money. It is funding that offsets a $23.4 billion dollar rescission from the FEMA Emergency Response Fund – funds that were originally appropriated in the second Katrina supplemental bill, P.L. 109-62 (see this CRS report for details on the earlier supplementals). Stories such as this one from AP, headlined “Congress approves $29 billion more in Katrina aid,” are factually incorrect.

– The bill includes a 1% across the board spending cut to funds already appropriated for FY 2006, with the Department of Veterans Affairs listed as the only exception. Presumably this implies a $380 million cut to the DHS budget for FY 2006. OMB will have to report to Congress within 30 days of passage about what they intend to cut.

– The funding for avian flu is spread more widely than I would have thought based on prior impressions. HHS (incl. CDC) gets the lion’s share, $3.3 billion, but a number of other agencies get sizable funding as well. The Department of Agriculture gets around $90 million. DOD gets $130 million. USAID gets $131.5 million. DHS gets $47 million. Interior gets $10 million. Veteran’s Affairs gets $27 million. State gets $16 million. Given these diverse funding streams, careful senior-level coordination is going to be needed to avoid waste and duplication of effort.

– The bill includes $1 billion of new funds for general state and local homeland security grants, in addition to the $1 billion for interoperable communications mentioned in the previous post. The bill language sets state minimums for this billion at 0.55%, i.e. $5.5 million for Wyoming when a purely population-based allocation would yield that state around $1.6 million.

– The bill includes a non-trifling $862 million for the Office of Air and Marine Operations (AMO) within ICE, for the purchase of aircraft and the construction and maintenance of their facilities.

– $20 million of previously appropriated funds are cut from the embassy security and construction budget at the Department of State.

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1 Comment »


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Hey media: it’s NOT a $29 billion Katrina relief package

December 20, 2005 @ 9:58 pm

[…] My first bullet point in this post yesterday bears repeating. As I mentioned, the “$29 billion for Katrina relief” in the DOD appropriations bill is misleading, since this is offset by a $23.4 billion rescission from FEMA’s Emergency Response Fund. On a net basis, the Congress would only be appropriating $5.6 billion of new money…not a small sum, but one that doesn’t have the same political impact as $29 billion. […]

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