Congressional lawmakers will again wrangle this week to fund the Homeland Security Department before a March 6 deadline. Lawmakers avoided a partial shutdown when it approved a one-week funding extension for the department, which had been running on a continuing resolution that was set to expire last Friday.
The Senate Feb. 26 is poised to pass a clean bill that it advanced the day before by a 98-2 vote. It fully funds DHS, which has been operating on a continuing resolution for fiscal 2015. That resolution expires on Feb. 27 at 11:59 p.m.
Several Homeland Security Department officials testified at a congressional hearing that their agency's operations, staff and work with emergency officials and the private sector would be significantly jolted if lawmakers don't fund the department past Feb. 27.
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials said they're tracking a growing number of foreign fighters, including more than 150 Americans, who've traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with terrorist organizations. But they admitted they may not be aware of all such fighters coming from Western countries.
The DHS inspector general launched the investigation after counsel for one detainee reported misconduct at the Karnes City, Texas facility that's operated under a contract by the private GEO Group Inc. All detention officers at the facility are contractual employees.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which enforces immigration laws and conducts counterterrorism and other border security investigations, was one of the biggest budget winners among agencies within the Homeland Security Department. The agency is requesting $6.28 billion for next fiscal year, or nearly $923 million above this year's estimated spending level.
Customs and Border Protection, which has the largest budget among all components within the Homeland Security Department, would see a 6.3 percent jump – or about $800 million – under the president's recently unveiled 2016 budget proposal.
Under the 2016 proposed spending plan, DHS would receive $41.2 billion, up from the $38.2 billion proposed for the current fiscal year. A summary provided by the department said that the 2016 budget "is grounded in the secretary's strategic vision of a DHS that operates with an enhanced unity of effort" across the enterprise.
The Goldwater-Nichols Act, also known as the Department of Defense Reorganization Act, implemented "thoughtful, serious and reasoned reforms" at the Pentagon and similar legislation can help reform and improve DHS management and operational activities, wites Daniel M. Gerstein.
On his last day in the Senate, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn issued a critical report on the Homeland Security Department, saying it's doing a substandard job from border security to counterterrorism to cybersecurity.