CQ reports today (via subscription) on something that the AP reported a couple of weeks ago: that the $648 million in funding for port security in the FY 2006 supplemental is severely at risk of being cut out of the final legislation. As AP noted:
An additional $648 million obtained by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to beef up security at U.S. ports has been dropped, the aides said, despite a 421-2 vote in the House for a separate port security enhancement bill just three weeks ago.
Back on May 5th I summarized the breakout of this $648 million accordingly:
- $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 portsâ€™ security plans;
- $227 million in new funds for port security grants;
- $132 million for the purchase of radiation portal monitors for installation at seaports.
The story in CQ notes that Sen. Byrd intends to fight the potential rescission – as well as he should. It was only four months ago that the nation was all astir over the Dubai Ports World acquisition. By striking out these funds, Congress would be saying in effect that its interest in port security then was a feint – one that now apparently lacks political advantage. That would be a shame, since the threats haven’t changed, and these funds could plug valuable gaps that exist today, without having to wait until the next fiscal year.