House passes $31.9 billion budget for DHS

The House of Representatives has approved a $31.9 billion budget for the Homeland Security Department in fiscal 2006, and is preparing to pass the first legislation to authorize the department since it was created in 2002.

The spending bill, approved 424-1 Tuesday, has large increases for border protection and immigration enforcement, providing more money than what was requested by President Bush for those programs. It must be approved by the Senate before going into effect.

Some of the most controversial provisions in the budget bill ? including numerous penalties inserted by House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) and subcommittee members earlier this month ? may be affected by expected House action today as it debates a separate piece of legislation authorizing the department. It is the first authorizing legislation for DHS since it was created by merging 22 agencies following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The numerous controversial provisions punish DHS programs by reducing their budgets as a response to a perceived lack of department cooperation with Congress.

The penalizing provisions sparked a turf battle this week between Rogers and Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, which became responsible for the authorizing legislation this year.

Cox, who argued that many of those penalties inappropriately step into the policymaking territory of his committee, won House Rules Committee permission to challenge more than 30 provisions from the spending bill on the House floor with points of order.

However, a deal was made between Rogers and Cox that will allow Cox and his authorizing committee members to prevail on those provisions when the spending bill is reconciled with the Senate bill in conference, according to a spokeswoman for Cox.

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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