FY16 DHS Full Committee Markup Bill Summary

Mara Stark-Alcalá w/Appropriations:             (202) 224-2667                                  
Ryan Nickel, Shaheen Press Office:               (202) 224-5553
Full Committee Mark:  June 18, 2015
Washington, D.C. – The fiscal year 2016 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill provides a total of $47.09 billion for discretionary programs, including $160 million for Coast Guard Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and $6.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund. After excluding these two adjustments, the net discretionary appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is $40.213 billion, $543 million more than fiscal year 2015 but $1.18 billion less than the President’s request.
The Subcommittee's allocation conforms to the post-sequester caps under the Budget Control Act.  Not one Senate Democrat voted for these Spartan spending levels because they do not provide adequate resources to protect America, build infrastructure, create opportunity, and spur economic growth.  We need a new budget deal, in the spirit of Murray-Ryan, that stops hollowing out investments in America’s future.
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ranking Member of the Department of Homeland Security Subcommittee, said:
“This appropriations bill is tasked with providing the resources needed for the security of our borders, the safety of our communities, and the protection of our federal computer networks that are under relentless attack from cyber criminals. It’s critically important that we get this bill right. I want to thank Chairman Hoeven for his diligent work in putting this bill together and for incorporating my recommendations and those of my Democratic colleagues. While I strongly disapprove of the overall budget that this bill conforms to, this is a bipartisan product that makes good use of the funds provided. I appreciate that the legislation has not reduced important state and local grants, and am especially pleased that there’s significant funding for local fire department grants. In the wake of the recent federal employee data breach, it is critical that this legislation take appropriate steps to ramp-up our efforts to protect federal databases from cyber-attacks. I look forward to working with Chairman Hoeven to further improve this bill.”
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement:
“I want to thank Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Shaheen for their hard work on this bill. The Department of Homeland Security bill shows that our national security isn’t just funded in the Defense bill. We can’t simply raise the Defense caps and still protect America. To defend America, we need our Coast Guard saving lives, seizing drug traffickers and patrolling the Arctic to keep us safe. We need our state and local responders arriving first on the scene whether it’s a house fire or terrorist attack. And we need our border patrol agents protecting us against drug traffickers, human traffickers and other threats that attempt to cross our border. We don’t have to look any further than the recent and distressing OPM cyber breach to see that our cyber warriors need more robust funding to protect our personal information and intellectual property from terrorists, organized crime and nation states. This is a good bill that could be a great bill given an adequate allocation. We must begin work on a sequel to the Murray-Ryan budget deal sooner rather than later, so we can start writing more responsible funding bills and make this bill great.”
Key Points & Highlights
  • Disaster Relief Fund.  The bill includes $7.4 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to respond to anticipated disasters and recover from disasters that have already caused damage.  The bill also includes a $1.025 billion rescission of unused funds recovered from previous disasters and uses those savings for other needs throughout the bill. This is by no means a sustainable funding source and creates a false sense that the funding level for several DHS programs, including border security technology and Coast Guard acquisitions, can be sustained in fiscal year 2017 and beyond.  This is especially true if Congress cannot reach a budget deal that would provide relief from the sequestration caps.
  • Coast Guard.  Excluding funds for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the bill provides $10.3 billion for the Coast Guard.  This amount is $496 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $570 million above the President’s requested level.
  • FEMA Pre-disaster Mitigation and Flood Mapping. The bill provides $411 million for FEMA pre-disaster mitigation and flood mapping, an increase of $165 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $189 million below the President’s requested level.  This funding level represents only 65 percent of the requested increases for building stronger infrastructure that will help communities prevent tragic loss of life and property during natural disasters, and ensuring flood risks are known to a community so that informed decisions can be made about how to rebuild strategically ahead of the next disaster. We are missing an opportunity to do more before it is too late.   For each $1 invested in mitigation, $4 are saved in future disaster costs.   In the 1990’s, FEMA was appropriated an average of $3 billion a year for disaster costs.  One decade later, average costs tripled to over $9.5 billion a year.   This post-disaster spending trend is not sustainable and it threatens our economic and national security. 
  • Detention Programs. The bill supports the President’s request to double the enrollment of individuals in the Alternatives to Detention program.  At the same time, however, it contains an arbitrary floor directing DHS to maintain 34,000 detention beds throughout fiscal year 2016.  Including this spending floor in bill language limits DHS’s flexibility to respond decisively to the immigration challenges affecting our country.  Alternatives to hard detention include more humane and cost effective ways of managing individuals awaiting immigration proceedings and are not a threat to our society.

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