DHS appropriations bill advances in House

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The fiscal 2015 Homeland Security Department appropriations bill advanced May 28 as the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security approved it by a voice vote.

Members did not consider any amendments. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the subcommittee chairman, said they had agreed to postpone offering amendments until the bill was before the full committee.

The bill (pdf) would provide $39.22 billion in discretionary funding to DHS, just below its $39.23 billion budget for fiscal 2014. The Obama administration requested a more significant drop, to $38.18 billion, in the 2015 budget it proposed in March.

"The president's fiscal budget for 2015 proposal for DHS presents a seriously distorted and harmful budget for our frontline homeland security agencies," Carter said during markup.

The bill would restore cuts that the administration proposed for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard.

Though the subcommittee didn't vote on any changes to the legislation, members did offer criticisms during markup. Several Democrats expressed their disapproval for the bill's mandate that ICE maintain a minimum of 34,000 detention beds, saying it was arbitrary and could waste resources if the agency does not need all the beds.

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), the ranking member, also complained about the absence of funding in the bill for the DHS headquarters consolidation project at St. Elizabeths.

Though most of the money for the project goes through the General Services Administration, DHS received $35 million for its contribution in fiscal 2014. The department requested $73 million in fiscal 2015.

Republicans have grown skeptical of funding the headquarters consolidation as its price tag has jumped by more than $1 billion and its estimated completion date has been delayed by more than a decade compared to the original plans.

For more:
- visit the markup webpage (webcast available)

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