The Senate passed its version of the FY 2006 supplemental spending bill (H.R. 4939) on Thursday, by a 77-21 vote. The House already passed its version of the legislation on March 16th. The House bill contained $19.1 billion in disaster relief funding related to Hurricane Katrina, but little else in the way of homeland security spending. (Here’s the conference report for the House’s bill). By contrast, the Senate version of the bill (here’s the conference report) contains $28.8 billion for disaster relief as well as a number of additional homeland security-related items, including:
- $2.3 billion for pandemic flu preparedness;
- $266 million in new funding for Customs and Border Protection, including $31.8 million to hire new supply chain specialists for C-TPAT, $23.3 million for new overseas inspectors for the Container Security Initiative, and $211 million for the purchase of additional non-intrusive inspection equipment;
- $23 million to the Coast Guard for the validation of ports’ security plans;
- $227 million in new funds for port security grants;
- $132 million for the purchase of radiation portal monitors for installation at seaports.
It also includes $1.9 billion in border security-related funding that was added to the bill in an amendment put forward by Sen. Judd Gregg and Sen. Robert Byrd last week. Gregg’s floor statement on the amendment is available here, and the full text can be found here. Its funding provisions include:
- $2 million for a border security study;
- $50 million for investments in law enforcement communications systems
- $60 million for US-VISIT, to make the switch from a two-print (IDENT) to ten-print (IAFIS) system;
- $80 million for Border Patrol vehicles;
- $100 million for border sensor and surveillance technology;
- $790 million for Air and Marine Operations investments in new assets (planes, helicopters);
- $120 million for CBP’s Construction budget;
- $80 million for replacement vehicles for ICE;
- $600 milion for Coast Guard acquisition of vessels, aircraft and equipment;
- $18 million for FLETC.
Now the legislation will move to House-Senate conference, during which many of these homeland security items are likely to be seriously contested. In addition, the Senate bill is $14.4 billion over the total of $94.5 billion at which President Bush promised to veto the bill, so the White House will be an important player on the sidelines of this conference, trying to trim back spending in certain areas. It’s difficult to forecast right now how this will play out. Port security, border security, and pandemic flu preparedness are all areas where there is solid Congressional support for more funding, but some of this could be cut from the final bill in the name of fiscal moderation or consistent with the argument that these activities should be funded instead via the normal appropriations process.