Sunday, February 13, 2011

HR 1 Introduced – Continuing Resolution

On Friday Rep. Boehner (R, OH) and Rep. Rogers (R, KY) introduced HR 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011 (actually only the title for Division B of the bill). Division B is intended to serve as the vehicle for the continued funding of the Federal government after the current Continuing Resolution expires on March 4th.

Chemical Security Provisions

There are lots of things going on in this bill and political pundits will have lots to say about a lot of those provisions. In this blog post (at least) I will try to focus on those provisions of specific interest to the chemical security provisions.

First and perhaps foremost is that §1116 will extend the §550 authorization for the CFATS program until September 31, 2011. This is a slightly different provision than we have seen in the past that provided an October 4th date for the termination of authorization. It is a purely technical difference since these extensions have been based in the DHS budget which practically speaking means the end of the fiscal year is the ‘real’ expiration.

Now for the money; this bill (§1624) would authorize the annual spending level for “Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Infrastructure Protection and Information Security” (the agency that includes ISCD/CFATS and CERT) would be set at $805,965,000. [FY 2011 Request - $865,965,000; FY 2010 Authorized - $899,416,000]. There is no indication in the bill where the in NPPD the actual spending would be cut. We will have to wait to see the Appropriations Committee report on this bill to get some sort of idea.

Similarly the bill (§1615) would reduce funds for “Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Surface Transportation Security” to $105,961,000 [FY 2011 Request - $137,558,000; FY 2010 Authorized - $110,516,000]. Again, there are no details of where those cuts would be applied.

Politics and HR 1

I can’t imagine any Democrats in the House voting for this bill, and I imagine that there will be some Republican defections on the final vote. Will those defections be enough to kill this bill in the House? Probably not.

What will be interesting in the House is how much this bill will be subject to amendment. That will be determined in tomorrow evenings Rules Committee Hearing. On one hand the Republicans have promised more open rules, on the other hand there is an approaching deadline of March 4th for some sort of action.

An entirely different reality faces this bill in the Senate. The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Inouye (D, HI) has essentially declared this bill dead in the Senate. In an official press release he explains:

“It is clear from this proposal that House Republicans are committed to pursuing an ineffective approach to deficit reduction that attempts to balance the budget on the back of domestic discretionary investments, which constitute only a small percentage of overall federal spending.”
Sen. Reid (D, NV) has been quoted as saying:

“Although Democrats have repeatedly urged them to join us in responsibly cutting waste and excess, Republicans have taken a meat ax to the initiatives that invest in our economy and create jobs for the sake of appeasing their base.”
I would like to assume that the Republicans will cast a symbolic vote (ala healthcare) on HR 1 and then get down to some serious negotiations on a bill that is marginally acceptable to mainstream Republicans and Democrats. I’m hopeful that the talk of shutting the government down over this budget is just so much noise.

If the CR Stalls – Whither CFATS?

If the two sides fail to make a reasonable deal and no budget bill or continuing resolution passes by midnight on March 4th, what happens to CFATS? Well that answer is simple, along with most of the rest of the Federal government, it shuts down. When (no ‘ifs’ about it) a budget bill is finally passed it will contain a provision essentially the same as §1116 of HR 1, and CFATS will continue on until the next budget bill or someone finally gets around to passing a ‘permanent’ or ‘long-term’ reauthorization bill.

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