Week ending September 8, 2017
H.R.3355 – Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2018
From the bill report:
The Committee recommendation includes $51,121,000,000, including $44,328,000,000 within the bill’s 302(b) budget allocation, and $6,793,000,000 as a budget cap adjustment for disaster relief.
From the bill report:
The fiscal year 2018 President’s budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reflects major policy changes for how it secures the border and enforces immigration laws inside the United States. Despite these policy shifts, the objective for DHS remains the same–to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards.
The fiscal year 2018 request proposes $50,794,385,000 in total discretionary funds for DHS, of which $1,906,213,000 is classified as budget function 050 (defense) funding and of which $48,888,172,000 is classified as non-defense funding, of which $6,793,000,000 is disaster relief.
For border security, the budget request includes an increase above fiscal year 2017 of $1,720,180,000 for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to support a strategy of attaining operational control of the border. Operational control is to be achieved through four primary capabilities:
(1) domain awareness, defined as the ability to
detect, identify, and classify;
(2) impedance and denial, consisting of the ability
to prevent and deter illicit cross border activity;
(3) access and mobility, to enable the law
enforcement response to illicit activity; and
(4) mission readiness, which is achieved when Border Patrol agents are trained appropriately and have the equipment and tools needed to conduct their mission successfully and safely.
The budget request includes a $1,130,222,000 increase above fiscal year 2017 for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to promote robust enforcement of immigration laws. This increase supports the expansion of ICE enforcement activities to categories of individuals whose removal had previously been deferred, including those with orders of removal issued prior to January 1, 2014, and individuals with no record of criminal convictions.
The Committee is pleased that the request fully funds the fiscal year 2018 requirements for the United States Secret Service, thus assuring that both its agents and Uniformed Division officers are compensated for overtime and relocations. Furthermore, the request helps reduce the need for overtime through additional hiring.
Funding is proposed to increase the capacity of the E-Verify system in preparation for a potential transition to mandatory use at the national level in the future.
Cuts proposed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs are troubling because the risk of terrorist attacks has not diminished since September 11, 2001, particularly in high threat, high density urban areas. Ensuring that communities are prepared to prevent, mitigate, effectively respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism should not be short-changed. Consequently, the Committee’s recommendation sustains FEMA grant programs at fiscal year 2017 levels. Likewise, cuts to ICE’s Visa Security Program–which ensures law enforcement officers have an opportunity to review visa applications and interview applicants prior to their arrival in the United States–have been restored to fiscal year 2017 levels.
Of concern is the Administration’s assumption that a proposed increase in the aviation passenger security fee will reduce the Transportation Security Administration’s requirement for discretionary funding by $500,000,000. The prior Administration routinely proposed similar fee increases, which have little or no chance of being enacted. DHS should fight for a topline budget increase rather than employ tactics that put it at risk of being unable to carry out its national security mission.
The Committee is pleased with the headway that has been made to strengthen and institutionalize DHS’s management processes. Despite commendable progress, more can be done particularly in the areas of planning and programming for required capabilities. DHS components–especially those that are operational–would benefit from a more transparent, rigorous, and common approach. DHS should leverage the Joint Requirements Council (JRC) to ensure that enterprise solutions are used whenever appropriate and cost effective.
As the Committee has opined in prior reports, it will take time to establish a culture of joint operations and interoperability. DHS’s components will have to overcome longstanding parochial instincts and better integrate into joint command-and-control structures. But the Committee believes that, in a world where threats emerge without warning, leveraging the power that a more joint DHS can bring is vital to protecting the homeland.
From the Congressional Research Service (With some modifications)
This bill provides FY2018 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection,
the U.S. Coast Guard,
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
the Transportation Security Administration,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
the Secret Service, and
other DHS programs.
The bill increases discretionary spending for DHS compared to the FY2017 funding level.
Within the DHS budget, the bill increases funding above FY2017 levels for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Coast Guard.
The bill decreases funding below FY2017 levels for the Transportation Security Administration and the Secret Service.
Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2018
Provides FY2018 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
TITLE I–DEPARTMENTAL MANAGEMENT, OPERATIONS, INTELLIGENCE, AND OVERSIGHT
Provides appropriations for:
the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management;
the Management Directorate,
Intelligence, Analysis, and Operations Coordination; and
the Office of Inspector General.
(Sec. 101) Requires DHS to submit the Future Years Homeland Security Program with the President’s budget.
(Sec. 102) Requires the DHS Chief Financial Officer to submit monthly budget execution and staffing reports to Congress.
(Sec. 103) Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a report to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) listing all grants and contracts awarded during FY2017 and FY2018 without a full and open competition. Requires the OIG to review the report for compliance with laws and regulations and submit the results to Congress.
(Sec. 104) Requires DHS to link all contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes specified in terms of cost, schedule, and performance.
(Sec. 105) Requires DHS to notify Congress of proposed transfers from the Department of the Treasury Forfeiture Fund to any DHS agency, and prohibits obligation of the funds until Congress approves the transfer.
(Sec. 106) Requires all official costs associated with the use of government aircraft by DHS to support official travel of the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary to be paid from amounts made available for the Office of the Secretary. Specifies reporting requirements for the travel costs of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary.
(Sec. 107) Requires DHS to: (1) submit to Congress a report on visa overstay data by country; and (2) publish on the DHS website the metrics developed to measure the effectiveness of security between the ports of entry, including the methodology and data supporting the measures.
TITLE II–SECURITY, ENFORCEMENT, AND INVESTIGATIONS
Provides appropriations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for: (1) Operations and Support; (2) and Procurement, Construction, and Improvements.
Provides appropriations to U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for: (1) Operations and Support; (2) and Procurement, Construction, and Improvements.
Provides appropriations to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for:
Operations and Support;
Procurement, Construction, and Improvements; and
Research and Development.
Provides appropriations to the U.S. Coast Guard for:
Environmental Compliance and Restoration;
Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements;
Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation; and
Provides appropriations to the Secret Service for:
Operations and Support;
Procurement, Construction, and Improvements; and
Research and Development.
(Sec. 201) Limits overtime compensation for employees of CBP, ICE, and the Secret Service except in individual cases that DHS determines to be necessary for national security purposes, to prevent excessive costs, or in cases of immigration emergencies.
(Sec. 202) Permits specified CBP funds to be used for customs expenses when necessary to maintain operations and prevent adverse personnel actions in Puerto Rico.
(Sec. 203) Prohibits the transfer of aircraft and related equipment from CBP to any other federal agency, department, or office outside of DHS unless Congress is notified in advance. Includes exceptions for: (1) aircraft that are one of a kind and have been identified as excess to CBP requirements, and (2) aircraft that have been damaged beyond repair.
(Sec. 204) Provides that specified fees collected from passengers arriving from Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island, pursuant to the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, shall be available until expended.
(Sec. 205) Permits the CBP to access certain reimbursements for preclearance activities.
(Sec. 206) Prohibits the CBP from using funds provided by this bill to prevent individuals from importing personal use quantities of certain prescription drugs from Canada.
(Sec. 207) Prohibits funds from being used to waive navigation and vessel inspection laws for the transportation of crude oil distributed from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until DHS takes adequate measures to ensure the use of U.S. flag vessels.
(Sec. 208) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to approve, license, facilitate, authorize, or allow the trafficking or import of property confiscated by the Cuban government.
(Sec. 209) Permits DHS to reprogram and transfer funds within and into the ICE Operations and Support account as necessary to ensure the detention of aliens prioritized for removal.
(Sec. 210) Prohibits funds provided for the ICE Operations and Support account from being used to continue a delegation of law enforcement authority authorized under specified provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act if the DHS Inspector General determines that the terms of the agreement governing the delegation of authority have been materially violated.
(Sec. 211) Prohibits ICE Operations and Support funds from being used to continue any contract for the provision of detention services if the two most recent overall performance evaluations received by the facility are less than “adequate” or the equivalent median score in any subsequent performance evaluation system.
(Sec. 212) Prohibits the TSA from exempting Members of Congress and specified federal officials from federal passenger and baggage screening.
(Sec. 213) Permits the TSA to use funds from the Aviation Security Capital Fund for the procurement and installation of explosives detection systems or for the issuance of other transaction agreements to fund certain airport security improvement projects authorized under current law.
(Sec. 214) Prohibits funds provided by this bill for Coast Guard Operating Expenses from being used for recreational vessel expenses, except to the extent fees are collected from owners of yachts and credited to the account.
(Sec. 215) Permits specified funds to be reprogrammed to or from the Military Pay and Allowances funding category within the Coast Guard Operating Expenses account.
(Sec. 216) Permits the Secret Service to obligate funds in anticipation of reimbursement from federal agencies and entities for personnel receiving training sponsored by the James J. Rowley Training Center, except that total obligations at the end of the fiscal year may not exceed budgetary resources available for the Operations and Support account.
(Sec. 217) Prohibits the Secret Service from using funds for the protection of the head of a federal agency other than the Secretary of Homeland Security, except where it has entered into an agreement to provide the protection on a fully reimbursable basis.
(Sec. 218) Permits the Secret Service to reprogram specified funds within the Operations and Support account.
(Sec. 219) Permits funds provided to the Secret Service for Operations and Support to be used for travel of employees on protective missions without regard to limitations on the expenditures if Congress is notified in advance.
TITLE III–PROTECTION, PREPAREDNESS, RESPONSE, AND RECOVERY
Provides appropriations to the National Protection and Programs Directorate for:
Operations and Support;
the Federal Protective Service.
Procurement, Construction, and Improvements; and
Research and Development.
Provides appropriations to the Office of Health Affairs for Operations and Support.
Provides appropriations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for:
Operations and Support;
Procurement, Construction, and Improvements;
the Disaster Relief Fund; and
the National Flood Insurance Fund.
(Sec. 301) Limits expenses for the administration of FEMA grants.
(Sec. 302) Specifies time frames for FEMA grant applications and awards.
(Sec. 303) Requires FEMA to brief Congress in advance of announcing certain grants and awards.
(Sec. 304) Specifies that, for the purpose of certain FEMA grants, the installation of communications towers is not considered construction of a building or other physical facility.
(Sec. 305) Permits certain grants awarded to states along the Southwest Border under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to be used to provide humanitarian relief to unaccompanied alien children and alien adults accompanied by an alien minor where they are encountered after entering the United States.
(Sec. 306) Provides for the receipt and expenditure of fees collected for the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program.
TITLE IV–RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, TRAINING, AND SERVICES
Provides appropriations for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for: (1) Operations and Support; and (2) Procurement, Construction, and Improvements.
Provides appropriations to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETCs) for Operations and Support.
Provides appropriations for the Science and Technology Directorate for: (1) Operations and Support, and (2) Research and Development.
Provides appropriations for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office for:
Operations and Support;
Procurement, Construction, and Improvements;
Research and Development; and
(Sec. 401) Permits the USCIS to: (1) acquire, operate, equip, and dispose of up to five vehicles, for replacement only, for areas where the General Services Administration does not provide vehicles for lease; and (2) authorize employees who are assigned to those areas to use the vehicles to travel between their residences and places of employment.
(Sec. 402) Prohibits the USCIS from using funds provided by this bill to grant an immigration benefit to an individual unless required background checks have been completed, received by the USCIS, and the results do not preclude the granting of the benefit.
(Sec. 403) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used for a competition for services provided by USCIS employees known as Immigration Information Officers, Immigration Service Analysts, Contact Representatives, Investigative Assistants, or Immigration Services Officers.
(Sec. 404) Permits the USCIS to allocate specified funds from the Immigration Examinations Fee Account in FY2018 for an immigration integration grants program to provide services to individuals that have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
(Sec. 405) Permits the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETCs) to distribute funds to federal law enforcement agencies for expenses incurred participating in training accreditation.
(Sec. 406) Directs the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation Board to lead the federal law enforcement training accreditation process to measure and assess federal law enforcement training programs, facilities, and instructors.
(Sec. 407) Establishes a FLETC Procurement, Construction, and Improvements account for planning, operational development, engineering, and purchases prior to sustainment and for information technology-related procurement, construction, and improvements, including non-tangible assets of the FLETC. Permits the acceptance of transfers and reimbursements from government agencies into the account.
(Sec. 408) Classifies the functions of the FLETC instructor staff as inherently governmental (rather than commercial, which would require source competition) for the purposes of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998.
TITLE V–GENERAL PROVISIONS
(Sec. 501) Prohibits appropriations provided by this bill from remaining available for obligation beyond the current fiscal year unless the authority is expressly provided by this bill.
(Sec. 502) Permits unexpended balances of prior appropriations to be transferred and merged to new accounts and used for the same purpose, subject to reprogramming guidelines.
(Sec. 503) Sets forth restrictions, guidelines, and requirements for the reprogramming and transfer of funds provided by this bill.
(Sec. 504) Extends the authority for the DHS Working Capital Fund (WCF) and prohibits DHS from using funds to make payments to the WCF, except for activities and amounts allowed in the President’s FY2018 budget. Permits funds provided to the WCF to remain available until expended and sets forth restrictions and requirements for the WCF.
(Sec. 505) Permits up to 50% of the unobligated balances from each Operations and Support appropriation, the Coast Guard’s Operating Expenses account, and funds for salaries and expenses in the Coast Guard’s Reserve Training and Acquisition, Construction, and Improvement accounts to remain available through FY2019, subject to the reprogramming requirements included in section 503.
(Sec. 506) Deems funds provided by this bill for intelligence activities to be specifically authorized during FY2018 until the enactment of an Act authorizing intelligence activities for FY2018.
(Sec. 507) Requires DHS to notify Congress prior to executing or announcing certain grant allocations, grant awards, contract awards, task or delivery orders, other transaction agreements, or letters of intent. Permits a waiver if compliance would pose a substantial risk to human life, health, or safety and DHS notifies Congress after the award is made.
(Sec. 508) Prohibits any agency from purchasing, constructing, or leasing any additional facilities, except within or contiguous to existing locations, for federal law enforcement training without notifying Congress in advance. Permits the FLETCs to obtain the temporary use of additional facilities for training that cannot be accommodated in existing facilities.
(Sec. 509) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill for a construction, repair, alteration, or acquisition project for which a required prospectus has not been approved.
(Sec. 510) Applies provisions of the Department Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008 related to a contracting officer’s technical representative training, disclosure of sensitive security information, and minimum federal fleet requirements to funds provided by this bill.
(Sec. 511) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used in contravention of the Buy American Act.
(Sec. 512) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to amend the oath of allegiance required by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
(Sec. 513) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used for any position designated as a Principal Federal Official during a Stafford Act declared disaster or emergency.
(Sec. 514) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used for a national identification card.
(Sec. 515) Prohibits officials from delegating this bill’s requirements to report or certify to Congress unless specifically authorized by this bill.
(Sec. 516) Prohibits funds from being used to transfer or release to or within the United States, its territories, or its possessions individuals detained at U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
(Sec. 517) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used for first-class travel by employees of agencies funded by the bill.
(Sec. 518) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill to employ workers who are illegal workers under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
(Sec. 519) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to pay award or incentive fees for contractor performance that is below satisfactory or fails to meet the basic requirements of a contract.
(Sec. 520) Prohibits DHS from entering into contracts that do not meet requirements of specified contracting laws and regulations.
(Sec. 521) Provides appropriations to remain available through FY2019 for financial systems modernization. Permits the funds to be transferred between appropriations accounts for the same purpose if Congress is notified in advance.
(Sec. 522) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill for a computer network unless pornography is blocked, with the exception of law enforcement, prosecution, or adjudication activities.
(Sec. 523) Prohibits a federal law enforcement officer from using funds provided by this bill to transfer a firearm to an agent of a drug cartel unless U.S. law enforcement personnel continuously monitor or control the firearm.
(Sec. 524) Sets forth restrictions and reporting requirements for the use of funds provided by this bill to attend international conferences.
(Sec. 525) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to reimburse any federal department or agency for participation in a National Special Security Event.
(Sec. 526) Prohibits funds from being used for structural pay reform that affects more than 100 full-time equivalent employee positions or costs more than $5 million in a single year without notifying Congress in advance.
(Sec. 527) Requires agencies receiving funds in this bill to post reports required to be submitted to Congress on the public website of the agency if it serves the national interest. Provides exceptions for national security or proprietary information.
(Sec. 528) Permits funds provided by this bill for Operations and Support to be used for minor procurement, construction, and improvements (end items with a unit cost of $250,000 or less for personal property and $2 million or less for real property).
(Sec. 529) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to implement the Arms Trade Treaty until it is ratified by the Senate.
(Sec. 530) Permits DHS to use funds for the primary and secondary schooling (including transportation) of dependents of DHS personnel who are stationed outside of the continental United States in certain areas where the available schools are unable to provide adequately for the education of the dependents.
(Sec. 531) Rescinds specified unobligated balances from the TSA Operations and Support account and several Coast Guard accounts.
(Sec. 532) Rescinds specified unobligated balances from the Department of the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.
(Sec. 533) Rescinds specified unobligated balances from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
(Sec. 534) Requires CBP to: (1) to conduct a survey of international passenger traffic at specified airports; and (2) designate any airport as a port of entry if the airport has scheduled international service by one or more air carriers and received over 75,000 international passenger arrivals during the most recent calendar year in which federal passenger data is available.
Requires CBP to ensure that a sufficient number of CBP officers are available at any airport designated as a port of entry in order for landing rights requests to be granted in accordance with specified regulations.
(Sec. 535) Prohibits ICE from using funds provided by this bill for an abortion, except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or in the case of rape or incest.
(Sec. 536) Prohibits ICE from requiring any person to perform or facilitate the performance of an abortion.
(Sec. 537) Specifies that the restrictions in the preceding section do not remove the obligation of ICE to provide escort services necessary for a female detainee to receive services outside of the detention facility.
(Sec. 538) Permits nonimmigrants to be admitted to the United States under the H-2A visa program for seasonal agriculture workers without regard to whether the agricultural labor or services performed are temporary or seasonal in nature.
(Sec. 539) Grants lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. to Charlie Gard and his family for the purposes of medical treatment.
(Sec. 540) Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to revise the statute of limitations for the recovery of FEMA Public Assistance Grants for disaster or emergency assistance.
(Sec. 534) Establishes a spending reduction account for the amount by which spending proposed in this bill exceeds the subcommittee’s allocation under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Specifies that the amount is $0. (Under the Rules of the House of Representatives, any savings included in the spending reduction account are not available for further appropriation during consideration of the bill.)
(Full text of H.R. 3355 at congress.gov)
Sponsor: Rep. Carter, John R. [R-TX-31] (Introduced 07/21/2017)
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: Data not available
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Data not available
Regulatory and Other Impact: Data not available
Dynamic Scoring: Data not available
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: Data not available
Duplication of programs: Data not available
Direct Rule-Making: Data not available
Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
The allocation for the fiscal year 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill is $44,328,000,000, an increase of $1,920,000,000 above the fiscal year 2017 bill. This 4.5 percent increase contrasts with the cuts sustained in other Non-Defense appropriations bills. Such a large relative increase for the Homeland bill underscores the need for the Appropriations Committee to ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated wisely, based on careful prioritization, substantive justification, and a clear nexus to the security of the nation. Unfortunately, the major funding increases in the bill fail to meet those criteria.
On the positive side, the bill addresses several bipartisan and Democratic priorities, including maintaining the current funding levels for first responder and anti-terrorism grants; doubling the Non-profit Security Grant Program from $25,000,000 to $50,000,000; and maintaining funding for flood mapping and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. It also provides a targeted increase for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for continued oversight of immigration enforcement and DHS partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies, and for other priority oversight areas. In addition, the bill continues the Cybersecurity Internship Program; increases funding above the request for new Coast Guard assets; provides additional funding for ICE investigations into child exploitation; and restores funding for Science and Technology Centers of Excellence.
While there is much in this bill that Democrats can support, the new administration has significantly changed the dynamic on immigration enforcement. The unfortunate result is that we cannot in good conscience support this year’s bill in its current form.
Alarmingly, the bill provides a $705,000,000 increase for immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States, including an average daily population in detention of 44,000 detention beds, an increase of 4,676 from the current year and 10,000 above fiscal year 2016. The increase would also support the hiring of 1,000 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and agents who would be focused primarily on interior enforcement.
The Trump Administration has claimed that its more aggressive enforcement approach in the interior of the United States is critically important to the national security and public safety of the country. While there is certainly no disagreement we should be removing dangerous individuals, ICE is targeting the parents of unaccompanied children who cross the southern border to seek asylum. It is targeting people who have lived, worked, and paid taxes in this country for years, or even decades with no criminal infractions.
The result so far has been a 157 percent increase in ICE’s interior arrests of non-criminals compared to last year. These arrests are not required for national security or public safety, and have tragic consequences for individuals, families, and communities all over this country. Many in law enforcement tell us people are afraid to report serious crimes, including acts of domestic violence, and they are less willing to come forward as witnesses to crimes. Teachers tell us that immigrant and U.S. Citizen children alike are afraid to go to school, or to just go out and play, for fear their parents will be gone when they return home. The trauma that is being inflicted on entire communities throughout our country cannot be overstated.
Given that being in this country illegally is a civil violation, why would we choose to fund such excessive immigration enforcement over activities to combat real terrorist and criminal threats? Comprehensive immigration reform–combining strong enforcement with a path to legal status for many who are already living in the United States–is the only solution to this problem. For years, however, the majority in the House has blocked bipartisan efforts to fix it.
We have a moral, as well as legal, responsibility when it comes to immigration enforcement. Just as other law enforcement agencies have discretion, ICE too can utilize discretion to enforce our immigration laws fairly and justly. Existing resources, used wisely, are sufficient for addressing the threat posed by criminal aliens who are truly dangerous The Committee majority rejected an amendment that would have cut the $705,000,000 increase proposed in the bill for ICE interior immigration enforcement, reallocating $543,000,000 to hiring an additional 2,310 CBP officers and $161,500,000 million for enhanced ICE investigations into human trafficking, child exploitation, intellectual property, financial, and narcotics violations, and national security investigations. By adopting this amendment, the Committee could have prioritized criminal investigations, border security, and the facilitation of trade and travel over civil immigration enforcement that is far more aggressive than necessary.
Another area of great concern is the $1.6 billion in the bill for new border infrastructure. The fiscal year 2017 funding bill required the Secretary to submit a risk-based plan for improving security along the border, but we have yet to receive that plan. The Committee should not even consider such significant new investments without a comprehensive plan backed by clear justification that warrants the enormous cost.
The truth is that the President’s malignant rhetoric on immigration has poisoned the waters on this issue, making it near difficult to reach practical consensus. We simply cannot support throwing scarce taxpayer dollars at one of the President’s misguided campaign promises.
UNMET FUNDING PRIORITIES
Instead of unjustified investments in border infrastructure and the expansion of overly aggressive immigration enforcement, we should be investing more of our limited resources in cyber security, human trafficking investigations, and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft, because currently our drug interdiction efforts intercept only a fraction of the drugs that are being trafficked in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean. We should be investing much more in new customs officers and research and technology, and should restore funding for TSA’s Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement Program and Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams.
Unfortunately, the funding level for government-wide cybersecurity activities and acquisitions is underfunded in the bill by at least $28 million, a direct result of the subcommittee’s limited allocation for Defense function programs. To ensure that upgrades to federal cyber networks are deployed on time and that the National Protection and Programs Directorate has the capacity to respond to cyber threats, the subcommittee’s Defense function will need to match the funding request, at a minimum, before the bill is enacted into law.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
While the bill restores proposed funding cuts to University Centers of Excellence, it adopts the proposed $87,000,000 cut from Research, Development, and Innovation at the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T;), along with the proposed $42,000,000 cut to Laboratory Facilities. Fortunately, the manager’s amendment adopted by the Committee includes report language directing the Department to provide better justification for the proposed elimination of three established S&T; laboratories, and directs S&T; to refrain from taking steps to close the labs pending the enactment of final fiscal year 2018 appropriations legislation.
COAST GUARD ICEBREAKERS
An amendment offered during Committee consideration of the bill would have redirected $2,300,000,000 from border infrastructure and ICE immigration enforcement to the Coast Guard’s polar icebreaker acquisition program. The proposed new border infrastructure has not been justified and the bill’s recommended increases for ICE hiring and detention beds do not have a security focus. In contrast, the need for heavy icebreakers is very well documented and focused on national security. A draft report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released just last week, warned that,
“The United States has insufficient assets to protect its interests, implement U.S. policy, execute its laws, and meet its obligations in the Arctic and Antarctic because it lacks adequate icebreaking capability.”
This is because the Coast Guard currently has only one functioning heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, which was built in 1976 and is well past its 30-year expected operational life. It is no longer reliable, and the cost to maintain it will continue to rise. At this point, its primary mission is to clear a path through the ice to our research facilities in Antarctica, which means that the only icebreaking asset we have in the Arctic is the Healy, the Coast Guard’s only medium class icebreaker. The Polar Star is expected to continue functioning for just three to seven years–leaving the United States with no heavy icebreaking capability.
Given that Russia has 41 icebreakers focused on the Arctic that are active or under construction, four of which are heavy icebreakers, we are falling farther and farther behind. This puts the United States at a tremendous disadvantage since we are unable to operate in parts of the Arctic Ocean for months at a time. The National Academy report goes on to recommend that,
“The United States Congress should fund the
construction of four polar icebreakers of common design
that would be owned and operated by the United States
The fiscal year 2017 Defense funding bill included $150,000,000 as a down payment on what is expected to be nearly a $1,000,000,000 price tag for the first ship. However the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 the House recently passed includes a provision prohibiting the Pentagon from using any fiscal year 2018 funds to acquire an icebreaker for the Coast Guard; an amendment to strike that provision failed on a recorded vote.
The solution is to fund the remaining cost of acquiring heavy icebreakers directly through the Coast Guard budget. While the Coast Guard plans to sign an acquisition contract in fiscal year 2019, it will release a Request for Proposals in fiscal year 2018. Having the funds in hand during the solicitation process would help the Coast Guard get a better deal on the cost of the needed icebreakers.
Combined with the $150,000,000 appropriated in fiscal year 2017, this amendment would have made available a total of $2,450,000,000, approximately enough to cover the cost of three heavy icebreakers. According to the NAS report, acquiring three ships at one time would likely save the government nearly $160 million per vessel. With this one amendment, the Committee could have put the United States on a path to securing our sovereign interests in the Arctic region. Instead, the amendment was defeated on a party-line vote.
DHS HEADQUARTERS CONSOLIDATION
Consistent with the request, the bill fails to provide funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project under construction on the St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast Washington, DC. In 2015, the Department revised its plan for St. Elizabeths to consolidate the footprint, reduce costs, and accelerate the construction schedule. We have passed the point of no return on this project. In fact, we are now at the phase that would lead to the most savings by allowing components to move from expensive, leased spaces to the new consolidated headquarters campus. On both fiscal grounds and to improve the cohesiveness of DHS operations, we must continue to make progress on the headquarters project.
AVAILABILITY OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES FOR WOMEN
Over strong Democratic objections, the Committee once again adopted an unnecessary amendment regarding the availability of reproductive health services for women detained by ICE. These restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion procedures are already applicable to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security and are specifically formalized in Part 4.4 of ICE’s 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards.
While many of us believe that those restrictions are excessive and unnecessary, we fail to see the point of interjecting this divisive issue into a Homeland Security
Before a similar amendment was offered five years ago, this bill had never touched on the topic of abortion because it is not relevant to the Department of Homeland Security and falls far outside the lines of jurisdiction of the Subcommittee. We will continue to work to remove the amendment’s unnecessary provisions from the bill.
We were highly disappointed by the failure of the Committee to adopt an amendment to give the Department the authority to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which failed on a party-line vote. Although we are confident that the Secretary implicitly has such authority today, the amendment would have made it explicit.
DACA provides an official way for young people who were brought to this country as children–also known as Dreamers–to continue living here, in the only home they know or remember. It allows them to continue their studies and work legally in the economy. To be eligible, they must have clean records verified by background checks.
The President said he will be the one to decide if DACA continues, but the threat of court challenges by some states has called into question whether that will ultimately be the case. This amendment would simply make clear that the President has the authority to continue the program if he chooses to do so.
When DACA participants first signed up for the program, it was an opportunity to come out of the shadows, to put anxieties of the past behind them and focus on the future. It would be the very definition of cruelty to take that away from them now. Yet not a single member of the majority voted for this simple, straightforward amendment.
Much of the stated opposition to the amendment during 9Committee debate was that it intruded into the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. Aside from the fact that the Committee readily adopted other authorizing provisions in the manager’s amendment and as individual amendments, a follow-up amendment on DACA by Mr. Aguilar, offered in the form of a funding limitation and well within the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committee, also failed to garner a majority of
The truth is that the Committee regularly agrees to include authorizing provisions that have bipartisan support in Appropriations bills when members find the justification for them compelling. We can think of nothing more compelling than helping these Dreamers who find themselves in such dire circumstances through no fault of their own
In closing, we want to extend our appreciation for the efforts of the subcommittee Chairman and his staff to work with the minority throughout the development of this bill. Consistent with prior years, the Chairman has carried out his responsibilities honorably, fairly, and collaboratively. Even when we must disagree, we do it with respect for one another and respect for the institution in which we are honored to serve.
Nita M. Lowey.
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