President Bush Tuesday signed an appropriations bill funding Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programs through fiscal year 2009.
The president signed off on the bill even though Congress increased its size to $40 billion in discretionary spending—6 percent over what the president had requested—because it was one of several spending bills bundled together for the new fiscal year, which began Wednesday. The bill also rejected the president's request to cut $2 billion from homeland security grant programs, according to the Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
Despite its spending increases, the bill did cut low-priority and badly managed programs including US-VISIT and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.
Here are some of the highlights of interests to security professionals, both private and public.
First Responder and Port Security Grant Programs: $4.2 billion
Grants of Interest:
- State Grants: $950 million for local first responders that respond to terrorist attacks and catastrophic incidents. Originally, the president's request had cut these grants by $777 million.
- Urban Area Grants: $837.5 million to help high-risk urban areas plan, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks.
- Interoperable Communications: $50 million for first responders to equip themselves with technology to communicate during emergencies. The president's original request cut this funding.
Customs and Border Protection: $9.82 billion
- Hire 4,361 new staff, including 2,200 border patrol agents and 1,373 CBP Officers and Agricultural Specialists.
- Help recruit and retain CBP officers by giving them law enforcement status and retirement benefits it confers.
- Help bolster overseas container inspection programs as well as domestic nuclear detection efforts.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement: $4.99 billion
- Fund 33,400 detention beds
- Prioritize the identification of dangerous criminal aliens and expedite their deportation once detained.
Maritime Security, Safety, and Environmental Protection
Grants of Interest:
- Port Security Grants: $400 million for grants to protect critical port facilities and infrastructure.
Coast Guard: $9.36 billion
- Integrated Deepwater Systems program: $1.03 billion provided approximately two-thirds is spent on aircraft and surface ships. The final third of funds will only be made available if DHS submits implementation plans to Congress.
9-11 Act Aviation Security Mandates:
Transportation Security Administration (TSA): $4.62 billion
- Implement 9-11 Act requirements, including purchase of explosive detection systems for baggage and funding of air cargo security initiatives; specialized screening programs; and response teams, inspectors, regulations, and new activities.
REAL ID: $100 million
- Help DHS develop a data hub that links state DMVs to other record-keeping agencies to verify the identity of individuals applying for new drivers licenses.
Cybersecurity: $313.5 million
- Protect federal government computer networks from cyberattacks.
Disaster Relief Fund: $1.4 billion
- Assist state and local governments and individuals during a presidentially declared disaster or emergency.