Senate Committee Passes FY2017 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the FY2017 Homeland Security Bill, a bill that emphasizes aviation security, by providing additional funding for the Transportation Security Administration to deploy additional staff, canines, and technology.

The bill, approved 30-0, provides $48.07 billion for discretionary programs with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including those in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.  This funding includes $6.7 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund pursuant to the Budget Control Act and $163 million in Overseas Contingency Funding for the Coast Guard.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) funding is increased to $5.08 billion in net discretionary funding.  This $215 million increase over the FY2016 funding level would give TSA resources to hire additional personnel to staff airport security checkpoints.

In addition to increasing funding to bolster cybersecurity, the Senate measure strengthens funding for border security, disaster mitigation, and state and local grants.  It also continues provisions requiring greater accountability from DHS and its agencies.

“Threats to the U.S. homeland have grown and become more complex in the 15 years since 9/11.  This bill would provide funding that will allow the Department of Homeland Security to protect the American people,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).  “Senators Hoeven and Shaheen have worked in strong, bipartisan fashion to develop a responsible bill, and I look forward to its being debated by the full Senate.”

 “As a result of our joint efforts, we have passed a strong product out of Committee today that addresses the Department’s needs,” said U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.  “The bill supports DHS’s critical operations and programs and reflects four important priorities for funding: aviation security, cybersecurity, border security, and state and local grants.  I want to thank the ranking member of the subcommittee, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and her staff, as well all of the Senators who provided input to the bill and report.  We incorporated submissions from 90 Senators on both sides of the aisle on nearly every facet of the Department’s operations, and now I believe we have good, bipartisan legislation for the American people.”

Bill Highlights:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – $48.07 billion, $245 million above the FY2016 enacted level and $740 million above the President’s budget request, in discretionary funding for  DHS missions including border security, transportation security, immigration enforcement, and cybersecurity.  This funding includes $6.7 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund pursuant to the Budget Control Act and $163 million in Overseas Contingency Funding for the Coast Guard.  Overall, the bill recommends $49.7 billion including discretionary and mandatory funding.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – $11.18 billion, an increase of $125 million above the FY2016 enacted level, to support Border Patrol agents, CBP officers, equipment, and technology required to support operations at our borders and ports of entry.  This funding supports efforts to hire 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 23,775 CBP officers, in addition to more tactical infrastructure, technology and aircraft.  The bill funds tactical communications, recapitalization of Non-Intrusive Inspection equipment, maintenance of border fencing and roads, procurement of additional surveillance systems and other situational awareness technology, three multi-role enforcement aircraft, replacement light duty enforcement helicopters, and enhancements to unmanned aerial system capabilities.

Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) – $5.96 billion, $132 million above the FY2016 enacted level and $52 million above the FY2017 request, to continue support for ICE enhancements provided in FY2016.  The bill includes funding for 34,000 detention beds, continues support for new teams targeting at-large criminal aliens and those who overstay their visas, and for human trafficking and other domestic and international investigative activities.  It also provides $66 million for vehicles and radios to replace aging equipment.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – $5.08 billion in net discretionary funding, $215 million above the FY2016 enacted level and $959 million above the FY2017 request (including the unauthorized $880 million fee proposal).  The bill makes targeted investments in personnel, canine teams, and checkpoint technology.  Specifically, the measure includes:  funding for an additional 1,344 TSA personnel to staff checkpoints to mitigate wait times; an additional 50 canine teams to allow for more throughput of expedited passengers; and investments in future checkpoint technology and innovative solutions.  The legislation also fully funds other critical layers of security, from passenger pre-screening and intelligence functions, to the Federal Air Marshal Service and the Federal Flight Deck Officer program.

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) – $10.4 billion, an increase of $292 million above the FY2017 requested level.  This level supports a robust USCG operating expenses budget, including a grant program for commercial fishing safety, purchase of additional response boats, and funds for the National Coast Guard Museum.  This bill also provides necessary increases for acquisitions, including funding long lead time materials for a tenth National Security Cutter, continuing activities associated with the Offshore Patrol Cutter, two additional Fast Response Cutters (for six total), and support for multiple sustainment efforts and program offices such as the C-130J, C-27J, and HH-65.  The measure also includes program management and personnel costs associated with the Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization Project in addition to funding in the Senate FY2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.  The defense bill includes $1.0 billion in Navy shipbuilding funds to build the first USCG-operated icebreaker since FY1990.

U.S. Secret Service (USSS) – $1.89 billion, the same as the budget request, to fully support USSS activities associated with the end of the 2016 campaign cycle and the next former presidential security detail.  The bill restores grant funding and support to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  It also fully funds recommendations from the Protective Mission Panel, as well as continued acquisition activities related to investments made by Congress in FY2016.

National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) – $1.82 billion, an increase of $183 million above the FY2016 enacted level.  This funding level is in addition to $1.45 billion in fees for the Federal Protective Service.  Cybersecurity efforts, including protection of civilian Federal networks, are supported at $1 billion, $186 million above the FY2016 enacted level, and include funding for Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, as well as $480 million for the Einstein system.  Additional activities are funded, including the Office of Bombing Prevention, priority communications upgrades so that designated calls can be placed on the most current technology during disasters and emergencies, and continuing the upgrade to the DHS biometric identification system.

Office of Health Affairs (OHA) – The bill contains $108 million for OHA, $17 million below the FY2016 enacted level.  Included in the total is $70 million for the BioWatch program.  An additional $12 million is included in the Science and Technology budget to conduct research and develop and advance technology for the future of BioWatch.  

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – $11.39 billion, of which $7.35 billion is for the Disaster Relief Fund including $6.71 billion pursuant to the Budget Control Act.  This is $560 million above the FY2017 request.  The bill provides $1.04 billion for FEMA salaries and expenses, which includes grants systems modernization, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, and Urban Search and Rescue Teams.

The bill includes strong support for state and local first responders and emergency management personnel, providing $2.57 billion for these grant and training programs:
•    $467 million for State Homeland Security Grants, including $55 million for Operation Stonegarden
•    $600 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants, including $20 million for the non-profit set-aside
•    $100 million each for Port and Transit Security grants
•    $50 million for Countering Violent Extremism
•    $680 million for Fire and SAFER grants
•    $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants
•    $68 million for the Center for Domestic Preparedness
•    $18 million for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security
•    $21 million for the Emergency Management Institute
•    $101 million for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium

The Committee also strongly supports hazard mitigation programs.  For every $1 invested in mitigation, $4 can be saved in disaster recovery.  For that reason, the bill provides $178 million for Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Assessment Program and $100 million for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – $119 million for E-Verify.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) – $243 million for FLETC for training and to complete infrastructure improvements and dormitory renovations.

Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) – $790 million for S&T.  A total of $41 million is provided to maintain all current Centers of Excellence within University Programs, $9 million above the FY2017 request.

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) – $348 million for DNDO to support continued research and development activities.  The bill fully funds the Securing the Cities program at $22 million, and funds the purchase of new handheld radiation detection systems.

Departmental Management and Operations (DMO) – $1.14 billion for DMO, $24 million below the FY2017 request.  This level fully supports headquarters management, including an $18 million increase for the Office of the Inspector General to bolster audit and oversight activities.  In addition, a general provision includes $226 million for the DHS headquarters consolidation at St. Elizabeths in Washington, D.C.

Oversight and Accountability

The measure also includes extensive direction regarding metrics and performance evaluation to hold DHS accountable for operational outcomes associated with the included investments.  Not only should this information be available to assist the Committee in its budgeting and allocation decisions, but the American taxpayers should know what results they are getting for their investment in security.  Other oversight measures include:
•    Requiring the Department to submit a report on visa overstays and publish border security metrics;
•    Requiring the Department to submit quarterly obligation and staffing plans and better details in budget justification;
•    Requiring the Department to report conference spending to the Inspector General and limiting the use of funds for certain conferences; and
•    Requiring the Department to link all contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and prohibiting funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance.