Legislative Activity

DHS Funding Has Uncertain Future

On January 9, House Appropriations Committee Republicans released their proposed $39.7 million FY 2015 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill, which the House may consider as early as this week. The bill would increase funding for immigration enforcement-related agencies and cut funding for other domestic programs, such as the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard. However, it would bar U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services from using funds to provide immigration benefits without conducting background checks. The bill is expected to draw other immigration riders in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which could hamper the bill’s passage in the Senate and draw a veto threat from the White House.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that it will release the FY 2016 President’s Budget on February 2. However, OMB is hampered by the lack of a final FY 2015 budget and the current extension of funding for the DHS, which expires on February 27. Congress only agreed to a short term extension of the DHS budget in the lame duck session as a result of the immigration stand-off with the White House.

House Passes TRIA Reauthorization Bill

On January 7, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 416-5 the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 26), which was introduced by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). The bill would extend the provisions of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which expired in December 2014, for six more years through 2020. In particular, the bill would trigger federal government reimbursement of insurers once industry losses resulting from a terrorist act reached $200 million; the previous TRIA threshold was $100 million. The House passed a similar bill in 2014, but its progress was blocked in the Senate by now-retired Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who objected to a provision in the bill that would create a regulator to supervise insurance agents and brokers, which he viewed as wasteful.

The Senate promptly followed the House, passing H.R. 26 on January 8. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.