• Paris attacks complicate efforts to freeze DHS funding over Obama’s immigration executive orders

    Last week’s terror attacks in Paris have increased concerns of DHS officials that terrorists may be looking to attack U.S. targets. For many members of Congress, the Paris events are proof that DHS operations should continue to be funded, but opponents of the president’s immigration executive order appear ready to freeze funding for DHS altogether unless such funding does not include funds for the implementation of the president’s executive orders. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) warned fellow Republicans to be cautious: “Defunding that part of the bill that deals with enforcing the executive order makes sense but we can’t go too far here because look what happened in Paris. The Department of Homeland Security needs to be up and running,” he said.

  • Not enough senators would vote to override presidential veto of DHS defunding

    A late 2014 Republican strategy to fund DHS only through February in hopes of using further funding as a lever to change immigration policies once Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, may meet a dead end as Republican amendments to President Barack Obama’s DHS funding request will need sixty votes to clear the Senate. Senate Republicans will need at least six democrats or Democratic-leaning independents to vote yes to the Republican-led DHS funding bill.

  • Young researchers increasingly denied research grants, putting the future of U.S. science at risk

    America’s youngest scientists, increasingly losing research dollars, are leaving the academic biomedical workforce, a brain drain that poses grave risks for the future of science, according to an article published this week by Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels. For example, the number of principal investigators with a leading National Institutes of Health grant who are 36 years old or younger dropped from 18 percent in 1983 to 3 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the average age when a scientist with a medical degree gets her first of these grants has risen from just under 38 years old in 1980 to more than 45 in 2013.

  • Expanding mission, budget cuts, retirements at root of current Secret Service problems

    A series of recent security lapses at the White House may be attributed to an expansion of U.S. Secret Service duties ordered by Congress and the White House during the George W. Bush administration, according to a new DHS review of the agency. Officials familiar with the agency’s administrative inner-workings also note that budget cuts forced the agency to ration services while simultaneously dealing with a wave of early retirements from seasoned staff members.

  • California Hasidic group must refund misused DHS security grant money

    The California branch of the Hasidic Jewish group Chabad-Lubavitchhas been ordered to pay $844,985 for misappropriating federal funds.In 2008, Chabad applied for a DHS grant as part of the Urban Areas Security Initiative: Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides funding for security upgrades to nonprofits that are at high risk of terrorist attacks.Chabad spent $272,495 of grant money on payroll, utility, and other expenses, but now has to pay penalties and damages triple the grant amount under a mandatory provision of the False Claims Act.

  • Funding cuts hamper health agencies’ ability to prepare for, respond to Ebola

    Federal and state funds for local health agencies have been cut over the past few years, so when hospitals and municipal health agencies are asked proactively to respond to possible threats of Ebola, many question how they will fund such activities. Since 2008, at least 51,000 state and local public health jobs (roughly 20 percent) have been lost due to cuts in federal funding.

  • Many victims of Hurricane Sandy are still waiting for government aid

    It has been two years since Hurricane Sandy destroyed thousands of homes and businesses along the Jersey Shore yet many affected homeowners are still waiting for federal and state aid to rebuild. Of the $3.26 billion the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided to New Jersey, only $802 million has been paid out as of 30 September. The federal government’s first allocation of Sandy funds to New Jersey came seven months after the storm. The state has yet to issue any of the $1.46 billion approved by HUD in May, and New Jersey officials expect a final round of $880 million next spring.

  • U.S. planning expansion of nuclear production in the face of safety concerns

    Despite the release of a damning report regarding the 14 February nuclear waste accident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the government is planning ramped-up production of nuclear weapons cores, a move which is raising red flags for those calling for reform of nuclear production and storage procedures.

  • Congress ready to allocate additional funds to agencies working on Ebola

    Some members of Congress are preparing to offer additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, but according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the Obama administration has not decided how much additional funding it will request from Congress to combat the epidemic.

  • U.S. to commit 4,000 soldiers, $750 million in the next six months to fight Ebola in Africa

    The Pentagon’s effort to help eradicate Ebola in West Africa will require roughly 4,000 American soldiers, cost $750 million for the next six months, and may last longer than a year.American troops will help build seven testing labs and seventeen treatment facilities by mid-November, but troops will be on the ground in Liberia for at least a year.A majority of U.S. soldiers will not come in direct contact with Ebola patients, but a few dozen troops trained to operate in nuclear, biological, and chemical environments will be assigned to testing labs.

  • Law enforcement agencies use technology to compensate for shrinking budgets

    With funding shrinking in many sectors of law enforcement, agencies are searching for new ways to operate affordably while maintaining quality standards.Police departments’ budgets quadrupled between 1982 and 2006. With federal budgets shrining, there are simply too many challenges which would not allow for police budgeting-as-usual.

  • Cost of U.S. war on ISIS reaches $780 million

    The cost of the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) Islamist group has totaled at least $780 million, according to a new estimate, as U.S. warplanes and drones continued to strike Isis positions in Iraq and Syria on Monday and Tuesday. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that the U.S. military is spending up to $10 million a day and will likely request more money from Congress to fund the war. The attacks on ISIS began 8 August, and before they were expanded to include targets in Syria, the Pentagon estimated the daily war costs at $7.5 million.

  • Napa earthquake may persuade lawmakers to fund earthquake warning system

    Last Sunday’s Napa earthquake may push Congress to increase funding for an earthquake warning system. Building out the West Coast earthquake warning system, called ShakeAlert, would cost $120 million over five years, and an additional $16 million a year to operate. Today, ShakeAlert operates in a testing phase, and sensors notify researchers and volunteer participants when an earthquake has been detected.

  • Crime rates affected by who has administrative, budgetary responsibility for prisons

    In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court forced California to deal with the massive overcrowding in its prison system. The resulting reform shifted administrative and budgetary responsibility for low-level criminals from the state prison system to county jails. As a result, local California jails now face more overcrowding than ever, and local law enforcement is saddled with additional costs for imprisoning arrestees. In Israel, the trend has been in the opposite direction: an administrative reform which transferred authority over jails from the police to the Prison Authority resulted in the police sending more people to jail. A new study found that police are more inclined to issue arrests when prisons have administrative responsibility for detainees. The effect on crime: crime in Israel dropped as a result of the reform largely because the police — feeling less budgetary pressure — felt free to arrest more suspects, many of whom would have gotten off in the past with a warning.

  • No extra funding for increased Pentagon presence on southern border

    Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), has stated that illegal immigration and its effects are threatening to destabilize the region and are a national security threat to the United States. President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion supplemental request to congress, however,, does not include any additional funding for military operations.