The Senate’s deliberation of H.R. 5441, the FY 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Act continues apace this week, with numerous amendments offered and decided upon yesterday and today. The Senate passed two amendments from Sen. Byrd et al. without objection yesterday – S.Amdt.4557 and S.Amdt.4559 – that respectively add $350 million in funding for border security in FY07 and $648 million for port security in FY06.
The Senate also passed an amendment (S.Amdt.4560) by Sen. Collins et al. that wraps a lot of her FEMA-related legislation (S.3595) into the appropriations bill. The legislation keeps FEMA inside DHS but would rename it the U.S. Emergency Management Agency (USEMA) – a clear victory for the letterhead and business card lobby; and it would give the director of USEMA a direct line of authority to the President during a disaster response, something that the FEMA director used to have but currently lacks. A competing proposal by Sen. Clinton to remove FEMA from DHS failed by a 32-66 vote.
This afternoon, Congress is debating a number of additional amendments. An amendment from Sen. Biden (S.Amdt.4553) that would increase transit security funding and an amendment from Sen. Clinton (S.Amdt.4573) that would restore homeland security grants to 2005 levels both failed on procedural votes to waive the Budget Act and allow additional spending. Sen. Kerry put out a press release indicating the passage of an amendment that ends TSA’s exemption to the Federal Acquisition Regulation – an appropriate step at this time.
It’s unclear when they’ll finish the bill. I’ll provide another update after the final Senate passage of the bill.
Update (7/12): More details from GovExec.
Update 2 (7/12): OMB released its Statement of Administration Policy on the legislation today, listing the items in the Senate’s bill that the Administration isn’t happy about.