In my analysis yesterday of the implications of the elections on the Congressional homeland security agenda, I ignored one key part of the picture: the impact on the relevant DHS appropriations subcommittees.
The ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security is currently Robert Byrd. In the 110th Congress, he’ll be the chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, but in his prior stints as Committee Chair in the 101st, 102nd, and 107th Congresses he has also served concurrently as a chair of a subcommittee, so presumably he’ll continue to maintain control over the Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security in the 110th as well.
The ranking member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security is currently Martin Olav Sabo. But Sabo is retiring at the end of this Congress, so obviously won’t be chairing the subcommittee in the new Congress. A story in the News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, NC indicates that the new subcommittee chairman will be their local member of Congress, David Price. The article provides some interesting context on his likely philosophy and approach to the leadership role:
Price plays down the significance of his new post to North Carolina research and business interests. Sure, he could write a congressional appropriations report to highlight some local science project or new technology coming out of Research Triangle Park.
“But basically it’s about setting programmatic priorities for the whole country,” Price said. More money for rail security? For port security? For aviation security?
“You can’t do everything,” Price said.
….Consider the recently passed Secure Border Act, which would build 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Price called it “bumper-sticker legislation.”
The new fence is just an authorization, with no money attached. Price’s committee would have to pay for the thing.
Asked about funding the fence, Price paused to consider.
“I don’t know,” he said.
For now, Price hopes Congress will come up with what he would consider a better approach to securing the border.
Price has a few of his own priorities. He wants strong funding for disaster preparedness and emergency responders. And he wants to examine spending in the homeland security bureaucracy.
His dismissal of the idea of using the position as a platform for pork-barrel spending and his serious ruminations signal to me that he’s likely to be a very good steward of the nation’s homeland security resources in this role. For more info on Price, his bio is available here.