WASHINGTON–U .S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the fiscal year 2022 Homeland Security bill, which provides a total discretionary level of $76.3 billion, $6.4 billion more than the fiscal year 2021 enacted level. The bill supports environmental restoration along the border, provides responsible immigration-related infrastructure investments to meet the challenges of today, supports the federal workforce so that the Department can retain and hire qualified workers and support working families, and responds to the challenges of tomorrow, by making overdue investments to mitigate, build resilience against, and enable recovery from threats and hazards.
“This bill funds President Biden’s move away from the failed border policies of the Trump administration. The bill prioritizes a humane approach at the border and invests in proven, effective border security programs. It funds new facilities to safely process children and families seeking protection, increases support for our valued partners in the non-profit sector, finally makes an investment in reducing backlogs at USCIS, and closes the chapter on the immoral policy of prolonged family detention,” said Murphy. “I’m also proud our bill makes critical investments in the Coast Guard and provides hundreds of millions in new funding to secure our cyberspace and protect critical infrastructure from Russia and other adversaries. This effort is a product of a long negotiation process, and I look forward to getting it to the president’s desk.”
Key Points & Highlights
Responsible Immigration-Related Investments
The bill provides new resources to responsibly manage today’s border management challenges. The bill recognizes that ad hoc patches to border management cost the American taxpayer more in the long term. Americans have seen time and again, that our current immigration infrastructure, largely built in the 1990s, cannot ensure safe processing of children and families seeking protection. Specific investments include, a 36 percent increase in FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter border program for a total of $150 million, which provides critical support to border communities in the form of funding for non-profit organizations that provide food, shelter, and medical care for children and families. Each year hundreds of individuals get lost or abandoned in remote regions along the border, that’s why the bill provides critical lifesaving technology in the form of strategically located rescue beacons (+$3 million). The bill also identifies $200 million for two permanent processing facilities, strategically located along the border, to ensure that children and families are safely processed rather than housed under bridges and tents in perilous conditions.
Furthermore, for the first time, the bill provides funding for child welfare professionals at Border Patrol facilities. Not only will such investments ensure that children are processed safely by appropriate personnel, the funding will permit agents to return more quickly to the field to prioritize criminal and national security concerns, rather than process children seeking refuge (+$14.5 million). The bill also recognizes that investments in our legal immigration system create jobs, reunite families, and reduce irregular entry. That is why the bill provides $275M to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to help address immigration-related backlogs created by the prior administration. These backlogs harm the economy by preventing employers from hiring qualified candidates and act to separate families as they wait their turn, sometimes for decades, to enter the United States.
Environmental Restoration Along the Border
The bill supports the Administration’s efforts to repair damage resulting from the border wall construction with nearly $900 million from prior year border wall funds available for environmental restoration and other make safe work projects. These funds will address a number of challenges, including soil erosion. If left unrepaired, not only do these serious environmental challenges present negative consequences for local communities, they hinder Border Patrol’s ability to respond quickly and effectively by impeding the use of roads and access to areas near existing border wall. Additionally, report language accompanying the bill charges the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, to convene a multi-agency working group to identify the impacts of complete and incomplete border security infrastructure on border security, communities, tribes, wildlife, and local environments, including the impacts of erosion and improper drainage as a result of border wall projects. The Secretary shall provide Congress with a plan on addressing these impacts.
Responds to the Challenges of Tomorrow by Investing in Local Communities and Infrastructure
The world is changing—politically, physically, technologically, at home and abroad. With these changes come new and increasing numbers of manmade and natural threats that can disrupt our safety, our security, and our way of life. In order to address these challenges, we must invest in the challenges of tomorrow. That is why the bill provides additional resources and investments in cybersecurity programs to better protect against cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure ($272 million) and invests in efforts to secure public gathering locations and prevent the use of explosives against our critical infrastructure, the private sector, and all levels of government ($16 million). The bill provides funding to ensure emergency communications are uninterrupted as the nation’s communications services transition to internet-protocol (IP)-based networks, and begins work to secure the next generation of 911 capabilities such as texting and video ($79 million).
Recognizing that climate related disasters and climate change are a new reality, the bill makes a number of expanded and new investments. It provides $32 million above fiscal year 2021for the Department to modernize their vehicle fleet, supporting efforts to start a transition to electric vehicles. It provides grant funding to allow federal, state, local, and tribal partners to work together to identify areas of increased flood risk, informing individual and public planning efforts in the face of increasing storm activity and rising sea levels (+$12.5 million). To help prepare for and respond to wildland fires, the bill provides additional funding to the U.S. Fire Administration to conduct training and outreach in our communities (+$4 million). Finally, much of the bill’s $203 million in Congressionally Directed Spending and Community Project Funding grants go to targeted investments for pre-disaster mitigation projects that help to build resilience before a disaster strikes to reduce any resulting loss of life and property (+$154 million).
The bill recognizes that there is still much work to be done to secure the homeland against terrorism and other threats to national security and public safety. It invests in major acquisitions for the Coast Guard with $2 billion, including $1.1 billion for vessels, $448 million for aircraft, and $355 million for construction of shore facilities. Other funding in the bill supports maritime safety and security, including (but not limited to) search and rescue, drug interdiction, environmental and marine life protection, and aids to navigation.
The bill invests in our communities through grants that help to keep our citizens safe, such as homeland security grants that assist in preventing, protecting against, responding to, and recovering from acts of terrorism and other threats. These homeland security grants include funding for nonprofits, such as faith-based houses of worship, in the face of increasing threats to these institutions across the nation (+$70 million). The bill increases funding for transit security grants to help protect every day Americans traveling via intra-city bus, on ferries, and on our passenger rail systems (+$5 million). It also invests in next generation warning systems that expand public broadcasting entities’ capacities to provide alerts related to severe storms, evacuation routes, law enforcement alerts, and other essential information (+$40 million).
Critical Investments in the Federal Workforce
The bill provides significant investments in the federal workforce to support working families and to retain and hire the most qualified individuals. In order to meet the demands of the Department’s large mandate to secure the homeland, the bill recognizes that our largest assets are the employees of the Department. Therefore the bill funds a variety of workforce investments including, tuition assistance, child care subsidies to help retain qualified employees and provide necessary relief to Coast Guard families, and resiliency programs and onsite clinicians at CBP. The bill makes employees safer and more effective in their jobs by investing in new technologies and capabilities. For example, the bill provides funding for mobile, map-based capabilities that provide real-time situational awareness for every Border Patrol agent, bringing them a vital tool to improve their safety as well as their ability to respond to tools In recognition of the national safety role Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) serve and the pressures introduced by the pandemic, the bill provides additional resources to recruit and retain a qualified TSA workforce and to support the rights of TSOs to collectively bargain to improve their working conditions and pay.
Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Grant Programs
The bill includes $3.6 billion for grants and training to SLTT entities, $338 million above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level. Grant programs are funded as follows:
· $645 million for State Homeland Security, of which $90 million is for Operation Stonegarden, $125 million is for nonprofit security, and $15 million is for tribal security;
· $740 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative, of which $125 million is for nonprofit security;
· $105 million for Public Transportation Security, of which $10 million is for Amtrak and $2 million is for Bus Security;
· $100 million for Port Security;
· $720 million for Assistance to Firefighter and SAFER;
· $355 million for Emergency Management Performance;
· $275.5 million for Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis;
· $130 million for Emergency Food and Shelter;
· $40 million for Next Generation Warning System;
· $205 million for Congressionally Directed Spending and Community Project Funding;
· $12 million for Regional Catastrophic Preparedness;
· $12 million for Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams;
· $294 million for training, including $53 million for the U.S. Fire Administration and $22 million for the Emergency Management Institute;
· $20 million (by transfer) for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention; and
· $15 million (by transfer) for Alternatives to Detention Case Management.
Science & Technology
The bill recognizes the importance of investing in research and development of emerging technologies to enhance the Department’s future capabilities, providing $886 million of funding—a 16% increase compared to FY 2021. These key investments will support advanced modeling of future flows to the southwest border, allowing the Department to identify and assess likely impacts to their workload and therefore proactively plan and budget for a unified response. It provides $5 million to assess the impact investments have on combatting forced labor and protecting U.S. businesses. Additionally, key partnerships with the Nation’s universities will be sustained through additional funding for university programs, including valuable Minority Serving Institutions.