$3B border security fund gets the axe

The Defense Appropriations bill that passed Congress on Nov. 8 did not include a popular amendment to provide $3 billion for border security that included funds for fencing, unmanned aerial vehicles and ground sensors.

The border security amendment, sponsored by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) was approved by the Senate in a 95-1 vote on Oct. 3. When House and Senate leaders negotiated the final terms of the bill in recent weeks, they removed the border security provision and its funding. The defense fiscal 2008 spending bill passed the House, 400-15, and the Senate, in a voice vote, on Nov. 8.

Sen. Graham said last week he was disappointed by the stripping of the border security funds from the final bill.

"The amendment that I offered, supported by all my colleagues here, passed 95-1. Only in Washington would that be a mixed signal," Graham said at a Nov. 7 press conference.

Under Graham's amendment, there would have been funding for 700 miles of fencing, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors, vehicle barriers and other technology with the goal of reaching operational control of the borders. In addition, there would be money for enforcement and detention of illegal aliens.

"There is no doubt we need better border security at our southern border, including more boots on the ground, more miles of fencing, better technology which acts as a force multiplier, additional detention beds, and unmanned aerial vehicles," said Graham in a statement on Oct. 3. "My amendment provides funding for these important and much-needed changes in federal policy."

The defense bill provides $460.3 million for Pentagon programs, including $11.6 billion in emergency spending for additional mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAP).

The MRAP vehicles are produced by companies including Navistar International Corp., and General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics Corp.

Last month General Dynamics Land Systems received a $188.8 million work order from Force Protection Inc., to produce 401 of the vehicles for the Marine Corps.

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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