Senate, House DHS budget bills differ on programs, technologies

Published 20 June 2007

The House and Senate versions of the proposed DHS budget are similar in many ways, but also contain important differences on funding for programs, technologies

The Senate and House versions of the proposed DHS budget are similar in many ways, but there are also differences — quite glaring differences — in the programs supported and technologies promoted. National Journal’s Chris Strohm offers a useful summary of the main differences:

* The Senate bill recommended about $36.4 billion total for the department in its budget, about $200 million more than what the House proposed

* The Senate bill proposes only $362 million for US-VISIT, $100 million less than the House

* The Senate bill provides about $200 million less funding than the House for grant programs. The House bill would create two new grant programs — one for communications interoperability and another to help states meet the requirements of the so-called REAL ID Act. Both programs would get $50 million. The Senate bill would not create those programs.

* The House version would provide $800 million for firefighter assistance grants, compared with $700 million in the Senate bill. The House would allocate about $50 million more than the Senate for state homeland security grants and terrorism-prevention grants for law enforcement.

* The Senate would give the Coast Guard $770 million for the Deepwater fleet-modernization program, compared with $700 million in the House bill. The House also would withhold $400 million from the program until the department submits a detailed expenditure plan.

* The House would provide $560 million to procure and install explosives-detection systems at the nation’s airports; the Senate would provide about $530 million

* The House would allocate $73 million to inspect air cargo being put on passenger airplanes, compared with about $66 million in the Senate bill

* The Senate would allocate $253 million for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires travelers to have passports or similar cards to enter the United States when traveling from Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean or Mexico, while the House would provide $225 million (both chambers agree to delay the implementation of the law until June 2009 for land and sea travelers)

* The Senate would provide $550 million for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO, compared with $516 million in the House bill