Congress Sends $29.4 Billion Homeland Security Bill to President
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 29, 2003 Congress has sent the fiscal 2004 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill to President George W. Bush for his signature.
The $29.4 billion bill that funds operations and activities of the Department of Homeland Security calls for $535.8 million (1.8 percent) more than the fiscal 2003 enacted levels and $1 billion (3.7 percent) more than the president requested.
Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said he commends Congress for "moving expeditiously" on the department's first budget and for passing a bill that "includes a significant increase in funding to help make America safer."
"Through this effort, the department will provide an additional $4 billion for first responders and over $18 billion for border and aviation security and the Coast Guard," Ridge added. "This money will strengthen our border and port security by adding more people, resources and technologies. I am also pleased that this bill funds Project Bioshield to help protect Americans from bioterrorism."
The bill provides $9 billion for border protection and related activities, an increase of $400 million over fiscal 2003 enacted levels excluding the Coast Guard's Liberty Shield port security operations. The total includes $2 billion for Coast Guard homeland security activities.
Funding for traditional Coast Guard operating activities such as maritime safety, drug interdiction, fisheries, and environmental and humanitarian missions is pegged at $2.6 billion.
The bill earmarks $4.2 billion for firefighters, emergency management, and for the Office for Domestic Preparedness. This includes $500 million for state and local law enforcement terrorism prevention grants, $750 million for firefighter grants, $180 million for Emergency Management Performance grants and $50 million for the Metropolitan Medical Response System.
The Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Air Marshal Program are slated to receive $5.2 billion, including port security grants, $405 million more than the president requested, providing funding for both aviation and nonaviation security. Passenger screening is pegged at $1.8 billion, while $1.3 billion goes for baggage screening efforts. This includes $250 million to install in-line explosive detection systems and $150 million to procure additional systems.
The science and technology portion is set for $918 million. This includes $88 million to begin construction of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center and $60 million for research, development and testing of antimissile devices for commercial aircraft.
The bill includes $839 million for protecting the nation's critical infrastructure and key assets. Of this, $188 million is earmarked for management and administration and outreach activities with federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector, which owns and operates 85 percent of the nation's infrastructure.
The U.S. Secret Service is to receive $1.14 billion, while $1.8 billion is set for disaster relief. The bill also includes $21 million to enforce laws related to forced child labor, intellectual property rights and textile transshipment.
Immigration Services is slated to receive $236 million while, another $7 million will go to support investigations related to missing and exploited children.
A provision in the bill calls for $5.6 billion over the next 10 years to be used to encourage commercial development and production of medical countermeasures against bioterrorism, an effort called Project Bioshield. The fiscal 2004 portion of that appropriation comes to $890 million.
The bill also transfers the federal air marshals from TSA to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as recommended by the administration.