DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - June 06, 2006)
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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the FY 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. This isn't a perfect bill, but it provides much needed funds to make our country safer.
Total funding in the bill is increased by nearly $2 billion from this year's levels, with some increases from FY06 in Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Transportation Security Administration.
Still, I'm concerned about shortfalls in the bill. First, although the bill increases funding for Border Patrol salaries and expenses over FY06 levels, it only funds 1,200 new Border Patrol agents, 300 less than requested by the Administration and 800 less than the 2007 level called for in the Intelligence Reform bill. Similarly, although the bill increases funding for salaries and expenses for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it only funds about 4,800 additional detention beds, almost 2,000 less than requested by the administration and 3,200 less than the 2007 level called for in the Intelligence Reform bill.
The bill also cuts firefighter and SAFER grants by 11 percent, cuts air cargo security by $30 million, and cuts urban area security grants from FY06 levels.
I opposed the amendment offered by Mr. CAMPBELL which would block any Homeland Security funding from going to State and local gove rnments if their law enforcement is prohibited from reporting immigration information to the federal government.
I believe that linking this provision to vital homeland security funds could have unintended consequences for our national security. Since 9/11, national security has become a national priority, and State and local governments play an essential role in assisting the Department of Homeland Security to improve the security in this country.
Under current law passed in 1996, it is already illegal for law enforcement to restrict the reporting of immigration information to the federal government. I support this law, and believe it should be fully enforced. The efforts of state and local governments to enhance our security should not be undermined because the federal government has not properly enforced immigration law.
We should be providing states with resources to improve security, not taking these resources away. By under-funding and allowing the weakening of security in some states and localities due to their lack of reporting illegal immigrants to immigration officials, the federal government would in effect be contributing to the weakening of our national security.
Mr. Chairman, much remains to be done to improve our defenses against terrorism, hut this bill is an important step, and I will vote for it.
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