Senate's defense spending bill strips TIA funding

The Senate last night passed a $369 billion Defense budget that would eliminate funding for the Pentagon's controversial data mining tool known as the Terrorism Information Awareness program.

In a 95-0 vote, the Senate struck down funding for the computerized terrorist tracking system in its version of the fiscal 2004 Defense appropriations bill. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, proposed the amendment to strip TIA funding from the bill.

Congress approved an initial $10 million for TIA in fiscal 2003. The Bush administration had asked for another $20 million in its fiscal 2004 budget proposal. (Click for Feb. 28, 2003, story).

TIA was formerly known as Total Information Awareness, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency changed its name in May after it received criticism from Congress and the media. The project is intended to collect and correlate information in disparate databases, ranging from financial to health information, to help the government track down potential terrorists.

Other highlights of the Senate plan are:

  • $63.5 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation

  • $10.7 billion for science and technology

  • $2.5 million for a Joint Engineering Data Management Information and Control System

  • Establishment of a National Security Personnel System

  • Approval of $2 million for operations and maintenance for an Army Reserve Software Engineering Institute.

  • The House passed its version of the Defense spending bill July 8, also approving $369 billion. The House version includes $1.7 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems program and $4.2 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter program.

    Senate and House lawmakers will now meet to hammer out differences between the versions of the bill before final legislation is submitted to President Bush.

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