Budget and Appropriations
The House approved its version of FY 2014 Homeland Security appropriations on June 6, but the Senate is just beginning the appropriations process. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has announced that the Homeland Security Subcommittee 302(b) allocation for FY 2014 will be $39.1 billion (plus $227 billion for war costs and $5.6 billion in disaster funding), which is $200 million more than the House version (H.R. 2217). The draft schedule being circulated in the Senate has tentatively set the subcommittee markup of the homeland security spending bill on July 16, with the full committee marking up the bill on July 18.
Immigration and Border Security
The Senate is debating the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) for up to three weeks, with senators already offering hundreds of amendments. The Senate rejected Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX) strict border security amendment, but other senators are crafting more border security amendments to gain the necessary Republican votes for passage. The House bipartisan Gang of Seven announced its plans to complete drafting and release its bill this week, but many remain skeptical that it will produce comprehensive legislation. House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) continues to mark up piecemeal bills, including Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) SAFE Act (H.R. 2278), which would increase interior enforcement.
Power Grid Protection
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) has enlisted former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby to support the introduction of his bill to protect U.S. power grids from electromagnetic attacks, after similar legislation died in the House in 2012. Rep. Franks, who co-chairs the small Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus, says his legislation would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and electric companies to develop rapid-response standards and build hardware solutions to the potential threat of electromagnetic pulses.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, June 25: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Management, intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia will hold a hearing on “Are We Prepared? Measuring the Impact of Preparedness Grants Since 9/11.”
- To Be Determined: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has announced that it will reschedule the March 6 hearing on FY 2014 appropriations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Executive Branch Activity
ICE Director Steps Down
In the middle of Congress’ debate over comprehensive immigration reform, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton announced his resignation after four years. Given Republican opposition to some of his policies, including instituting prosecutorial discretion to focus on deporting only the most dangerous undocumented immigrants, the Obama administration may face a confirmation battle as it pushes Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.