Saturday, June 8, 2013

HR 2217 Amendments

As I noted earlier this week the House passed HR 2217, the DHS FY 2014 appropriations bill. There were a number of amendments to this bill offered from the floor, but only four would be of specific interest to readers of this blog; one dealing with Port Security Grants, two dealing with the TSA surface transportation security operations and one with TSA security vetting.

Port Security Grants

The House adopted by voice vote an amendment offered by Rep. Brownley (D, CA) that specifically sets the Port Security Grant program funding at $97,500,000; the same funding level as was set in FY 2013. The bill as offered in the House did not specify how much money was to go into each of the FEMA grant programs. This amendment changed this for this specific program.

In an interesting parliamentary move, Ms. Brownley did not mention the Port Security Grant program in the actual amendment, it simply removed and then re-added back the amount allocated to the general FEMA grant funding amount. Her description {CRec 6-5-13 pg H3157} of the purpose of the amendment on the floor is what served to allocate this for the specific program.

Surface Transportation Programs

There were two amendments offered dealing with the TSA surface transportation security programs. The first, offered by Rep. Lynch (D,MA) {CRec 6-5-13 pg H3138}, was adopted by the House in a voice vote, increased spending for surface transportation security programs by $15,676,000, restoring funding to the FY 2013 levels.

The second amendment, offered by Rep. Garrett (R,NJ) failed on a mixed vote (68 Republicans voted No, 19 Democrats voted Yes). The amendment would have added a section to the end of the bill prohibiting any spending on TSA Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPR) teams outside of airports. The debate {CRec 6-5-13, pg H3178} clearly showed Mr. Garrett’s displeasure with the use of VIPR teams in the surface transportation arena.

TSA Security Vetting

An amendment offered by Rep. Mica (R,FL) and subsequently withdrawn {CRec 6-5-13, pg 3154} would have increased the funding for the Office of Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing by $23,334,000. The money would have come from the administration of the TSA airport screening program. The debate {CRec 6-5-13, pg 3150} indicated that Mr. Mica was more concerned about cutting the ‘bloated’ TSA airport program than with increasing the ‘connecting the dots’ operations at the OTTAC.

Moving On

It is likely that many of these amendments made by the House to HR 2217 will not make it into the final bill signed by the President. The Senate will almost certainly take up their version of a DHS spending bill (not yet published) and substitute that language for the language adopted by the House this week. A conference committee will then iron out the differences between the two versions of the bill.

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