After a full week of floor debate, the FY 2007 homeland security appropriations bill (H.R. 5441) passed the Senate last week by a 100-0 vote. The Senate debated a total of 68 amendments on its way to passing the bill, 54 of which passed (some after modification). I’ve put together a “cheatsheet” that summarizes all of the amendments that were considered, in an Excel chart that you can download at this link.
This post last Wednesday summarized some of the early amendments to the bill. Some of the other major amendments that were considered:
– S.Amdt.4574, by Sen. Coleman, would move DHS forward to implement one of the key provisions of the now-stalled Greenlane Maritime Cargo Security Act: the testing of 100% screening at three major foreign ports. The amendment passed by unanimous consent.
– S.Amdt.4594 (Voinovich) and S.Amdt.4626 (Dodd), which increase funding for the Emergency Management Performance Grant and Firefighter Assistance Grant programs respectively. The increases in funds for these programs are made by increasing a rescission to DHS’s FY ’06 science & technology budget and cutting the DHS management budget respectively – both questionable judgments, in my opinion. These two amendments both passed by unanimous consent.
– S.Amdt.4620, by Sen. Byrd, which would give DHS the authority to regulate chemical plant security, as a stopgap measure prior to the passage of a comprehensive chemical security bill. The amendment passed by unanimous consent.
– S.Amdt.4634, by Sen. Menendez, which would have reduced the “mandatory state minimums” in Patriot Act-sanctioned homeland security grant programs from 0.75% to 0.25%. The amendment failed by a 36-64 vote, with large state Senators voting in favor of it and nearly all small state Senators voting against it. A few small state Senators voted for the amendment, against their states’ pecuniary interests, to their immense credit: Byrd, Coburn, Gregg, Inhofe, Inouye, and McCain.
Browsing all of these amendments today, the majority of which had little to do with the budget, it seemed like I was studying an authorization bill. Which begs the question: why isn’t the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) doing an authorization bill this year? The House Homeland Security Committee (HSC) is marking up its own authorization bill on Wednesday, but the HSGAC has no intention of moving forward on one.
The answer is complicated, but at its root it’s due to the fact that the HSGAC has very limited authority over homeland security in the Senate, in contrast with the HSC, because of the way that other committees fought to preserve their jurisdiction at the beginning of the 109th Congress. Hopefully the Senate leadership will get this fixed at the start of the 110th; otherwise we’re going to continue to see disjointed oversight of DHS in the Senate, as exemplified by the non-budget related amendments in this bill.
The bill now moves to conference with the House, and it should be on schedule for passage in September.