Congress Boosts DHS Funding 6.6 Percent for 2010; Targets Cybersecurity

By Joseph Straw

The U.S. Senate Wednesday approved $42.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2010, slightly below the White House’s request of $43.1 billion, but a 6.6 increase over 2009’s expenditure, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bill, passed last week by the House of Representatives, is headed to President Obama’s desk for signature.

The spending bill prohibits transfer of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to U.S. states and territories, complicating the administration’s goal of closing the facility by January per an executive order Obama issued soon after his inauguration.

The legislation also places conditions on the construction of a new National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas, where DHS plans to transfer research on foot-and-mouth disease from its Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located off the coast of New York State’s Long Island.

Before spending money on NBAF’s construction, DHS must conduct a risk assessment of the planned facility and brief lawmakers on contingency plans in the event of pathogen release from the facility.

The bill would fund the exit component of DHS’s entry-exit monitoring program, the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) to the tune of $50 million. Challenges in collection of biometric data from non-U.S. residents at exits, plus questions about risk reduction, have threatened the US-VISIT exit component’s development.

The measure provides $397 million for cybersecurity, a 27 percent increase over the 2009 appropriation, amid increased  threats and Obama’s commitment to address them.

The bill cuts aid to states for implementation of the REAL ID Act from $100 million in 2009 to $60 million, with Congress expected to approve reforms under legislation dubbed PASS ID, which would scale back compliance requirements for issuance of state-issued driver’s licenses.

 ♦  Photo of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, the new home of DHS, by Rory Finneren/Flickr


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