Budget and Appropriations
On May 22, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2014 Homeland Security appropriations bill, which provides $38.9 billion in discretionary funding to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) overall: $35 million below the president’s request, $618 million below the fiscal 2013 enacted amount and $981 million above the current post-sequestration level. The bill provides $817 million less in infrastructure protection that the president requested to penalize DHS for failing to implement chemical security programs in the wake of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet moved forward on the FY 2014 DHS bill.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
On May 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a vote of 13-5 the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), which included a number of amendments to address some of the Republicans’ concerns about adequate border security. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expects to begin floor debate the week of Monday, June 10 and plans to hold a vote on the bill by the end of June. Efforts continue to secure the 60 votes needed to move ahead with the bill. The bipartisan Gang of Eight in the House has reached an agreement in principle on a comprehensive bill, but there are still hurdles to reaching a final deal. In the meantime, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) is planning to hold hearings on portions of the immigration bill in his committee.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, June 4: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations will hold an oversight hearing titled “The Department of Justice’s Handling of Known or Suspected Terrorists Admitted into the Federal Witness Security Program.”
- Tuesday, June 4: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications will hold a hearing titled “Emergency MGMT 2.0: How #SocialMedia & New Tech are Transforming Preparedness, Response, & Recovery #Disasters #Part 1 #PrivateSector.”
- To Be Determined: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has announced that it will reschedule the March 6 hearing on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Budget and Management, but it has not yet finalized a date. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar will testify.
Executive Branch Activity
TSA Airport Scanners
Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole has informed House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) that the agency will meet its extended deadline of June 2013 to phase out “backscatter imaging” airport body scanners that many lawmakers believe invade travelers’ privacy and could cause health problems. The agency has already begun installing privacy software that enables machines to produce only a generic body outline.