Senate panel advances DHS budget bill

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee has approved a Homeland Security Department budget for fiscal 2006 of $30.8 billion, a cut of 3 percent from the $31.9 billion departmental budget passed by the House May 18.

The spending bill now goes before the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

The subcommittee included $6 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, $5 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, $3.8 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), $3.5 billion for first responders, and $2.9 billion for emergency preparedness and response, according to a press release from the subcommittee.

Overall, the 2006 budget is $1.2 billion more than the president's 2006 discretionary spending request and $1.4 million higher than the 2005 enacted level.

The Science and Technology Directorate will receive $1.4 billion and the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) Directorate, $870 million.

Line items for IAIP include $142 million for telecommunications; $127 million for 'critical infrastructure outreach and partnerships for data sharing with infrastructure owners and operators'; $91 million to develop programs to protect critical infrastructures; $73 million for cybersecurity; and $60 million to identify, assess and mitigate critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.

In other items of interest to IT companies, the Senate subcommittee bill includes $340 million for the U.S. Visit traveler screening program; $51 million for the America's Shield Initiative integrating sensors at the borders; $50 million for ICE automation and modernization; and $18.5 million for Coast Guard research, development, testing and evaluation.

Following the House's lead, the Senate subcommittee did not approve a proposed $826 million expenditure to create a new Office of Screening Coordination and Operations to consolidate several screening programs including U.S. Visit.

The subcommittee designated $75 million for 'transportation vetting and credentialing' but specified that the subcommittee 'does not support those activities' within the new screening coordination office. The House bill contains similar language. The House and Senate versions must be reconciled into a single piece of legislation and passed by both bodies before it becomes law.

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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