Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chemical Security in Senate Appropriations

Well I had a chance to review the DHS portion (pages 644 thru 747) of the Omnibus Appropriations Act published yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Committee along with a published summary of the DHS portion of that bill. There are significant differences between this bill and S 3607 that was reported this summer by the Senate Appropriations Committee and with the HR 3082 version passed in the House last week.

CFATS Extension

As expected the CFATS authorization is extended in this proposed legislative amendment. The extension is found in §545 (pg 726) though there is a minor technical error in that section. As published it reads:

“Section 550(b) of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 109–295; 6 U.S.C. 121 note) is amended by striking ‘on October 4, 2010’ and inserting ‘on October 4, 2011’.”
The minor error is the fact that §550 has been amended twice by continuing resolutions this year and the current expiration date is December 18, 2010. This is the type of error you expect to see in a 1924 page bill that was cobbled together from twelve separate draft bills and then modified to meet current political conditions. Small stuff slips through the cracks.


The overall funding for DHS is $43.548 billion, a decrease from President Obama’s ($43.890 billion) budget request but an increase over FY 2010 ($42.665 billion) according to Committee DHS summary. Of this the infrastructure protection and information security programs and activities (which includes the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division) would receive $874,923,000 [vs $878,316,000 in HR 3082 passed in the House and $989,342,000 in S 3607].

That is as close as the actual budget language gets to the CFATS program. It is just too small a program to be actually listed in the document. The DHS summary document does note that the above amount would include “$105 million, as requested, to support the coordination and management of regulating high-risk chemical facilities” (pg 3).

Other Programs of Interest

The surface transportation security program at TSA would receive $137,558,000 (pg 662). This would include the folks that deal with the freight rail security program, though I would suspect that the bulk of that money will go to passenger rail and public transport security measures. It specifically includes, according to the summary, money for the “100 new inspectors and 15 Visible Intermodal Protective Response -- “VIPR” -- Teams added in FY 2010” (pg 3).

There will be “$386 million for cyber security, $7 million above the President’s request” (pg 4). The bulk of that money will go to IT programs, but I think that we can assume that ICS-CERT will continue to get its funding; whether there will be an increase in that funding remains to be seen.

The Coast Guard will receive “$8.92 billion (excluding mandatory retirement funding), $142 million above FY 2010 and $200 million above the request” (pg 2). The MTSA program and various hazmat security programs are too small to be mentioned.

The Way Forward

HR 3082 will not come up in the Senate until sometime after the tax cut bill vote is completed (probably today?). It is not clear that there are enough votes to bring this amendment to an actual vote. Many Republicans want to see a short term continuing resolution (45 days) to allow the new Congress to set the spending priorities for the bulk of FY 2011. There may be enough Republican votes from the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to close debate.

Of course if this amendment is passed in the Senate, then HR 3082 will have to go back to the House. It would probably be approved there; the Democrats can always point to their attempt to reduce spending and the Republican objections effectively don’t count. Of course, if there is any delay or hold up in the process, there will need to be another very short term continuing resolution; the current CR expires Saturday.

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