In one of the first congressional signals on spending for fiscal 2005, a House appropriations subcommittee has approved $30.8 billion for the Dept. of Homeland Security, a 5% increase from the 2004 level, but the bill's funding for transit and seaport security falls far short of what officials in those sectors are seeking.
The bill, approved June 3, includes a minimum of $100 million for rail security out of a $1 billion allocation for "high-density urban areas." But the American Public Transportation Association has requested $2 billion in security aid for 2005. The subcommittee's measure also provides $125 million for seaport security grants, but the American Association of Port Authorities has been lobbying for $400 million.
In another key part of DHS, the Transportation Security Administration would receive $5.1 billion, an increase of about $500 million from 2004. The 2005 total includes $269 million to continue airport installation of "in-line" screening systems for passengers' luggage. Of that amount, $250 million will come from the Aviation Security Capital Fund established late last year in the "Vision 100" aviation reauthorization measure.
Over all, subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) says the bill's funding distribution is "the right mix for the department." But Democrats on the panel criticized the totals as inadequate. Rep. Martin Sabo of Minnesota, the subcommittee's top Democrat, said that while the panel's recommendation is better than President Bush's proposal, there still are "very serious gaps" in the measure.
Although the high-density urban areas account would rise about 50%, to $1 billion, Rep. John Sweeney, a Republican from upstate New York, feels still more money is needed for that program. He says that New York City is spending $500 million to $1 billion a year on security but has received federal reimbursement for only $180 million of that.