House passes DHS authorization bill

The House has approved $34.2 billion for the Homeland Security Department and its programs in a reauthorizing bill that supporters hailed as the beginning of fuller congressional oversight of the department.

"This comprehensive legislation is the first of what will be annual authorizations of all of the programs and policies of the Department of Homeland Security," Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

The bill covers fiscal 2006 and includes funding for the recruitment and training of 2,000 new border agents; creates a new assistant secretary for cybersecurity position; and reforms the color-coded Threat Advisory System to issue specific threat information directly to regions, states, localities and industries, rather than nationwide.

It now goes to the Senate, but Senate leaders have not indicated whether they would consider it this year.

Democrats attempted to pass a substitute bill allocating $41 billion for the department, including $28 billion for border security and immigration and $6.5 billion for the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness. It failed to pass in a vote along partisan lines.

"The overall bill is lukewarm and lacks the necessary provisions to close a large number of security gaps," said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the senior Democrat on the committee.

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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