n June 6, the House overwhelmingly approved the $33.1 billion fiscal year 2007 funding bill (H.R. 5441) for the Department of Homeland Security.
The bill would provide $3.2 billion for first responders, including a wide range of emergency management, firefighter, and terrorist preparedness grants. Although this is 18 percent more than the president requested, it still represents a cut in federal homeland security grants, continuing a trend from the last four years.
During consideration on the floor, lawmakers adopted an amendment to increase funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) by $20 million, bringing its total funding to $770 million. Last year, the program received $765 million. The UASI program allocates funds to urban areas selected by the Department of Homeland Security based on a formula that takes into account factors such as critical infrastructure, population density, and credible threat information.
An amendment offered by Representative Nita Lowey (D-New York) to add $750 million to the program was defeated largely along party lines.
The bill would also make a slight cut to the State Homeland Security Grant program (SHSG). These funds are distributed to the states on a formula basis, 80 percent of which must be passed on to local governments. These funds are not designated solely for law enforcement use but can be used to fund a wide range of other public safety agencies like fire departments and EMS who have responsibilities related to preparing or responding to terrorist attacks. The proposed funding level is $545 million, down 1 percent ($5 million) from last year. This represents a decrease of 11.5 percent ($71 million) from the president's budget request.
Funding for the Law Enforcement Terrorist Prevention Program remains steady at $400 million, despite the fact that the president eliminated funding for the program in his budget proposal.
With the increased funding for the UASI program, the bill now would provide a slight increase (4 percent) over fiscal year 2006 funding levels for these three crucial grant programs. But most law enforcement agencies are not eligible to receive funds under the urban area grant program and will be forced to compete for funding assistance from a smaller pool of money.
It is also important to note that these critical grant programs have lost significant amounts of funding in recent years. In fiscal year 2004, the three grant programs received $3.066 billion in funding. Under this bill, they would receive $1.715 billion, a decrease of more than 44 percent.
In addition, the bill would provide $200 million for rail security, $200 million for port security, and $65 million for other infrastructure protection. It also includes $615 million for firefighter grants, $180 million for Emergency Management Performance grants, and $339 million for first responder training. It also includes $6.3 billion for transportation security, $19.6 billion for border protection and immigration enforcement, and $1.1 billion for critical infrastructure protection.
IACP Opposes Immigration Amendment to Homeland Security Bill
During consideration of the fiscal 2007 homeland security-funding bill, lawmakers approved an amendment by Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) and Representative John Campbell (R-California) that would prohibit states and localities that do not share information on illegal aliens with federal officials from receiving federal homeland security funds. The amendment targets state and local governments that have so-called sanctuary policies that prohibit law enforcement officers from sending information to, or receiving information from, federal enforcement authorities about the immigration status of foreign nationals that they encounter in the course of their police duties.
The IACP opposes the inclusion of this provision for two reasons. The IACP firmly believes that federal legislation authorizing or funding grants to state, local, and tribal agencies should not contain either earmarks, which direct discretionary funds to specific agencies or entities, or sanctions that reduce or restrict funding by requiring compliance with federal mandates.
In addition, the IACP believes that the question of state, tribal, or local law enforcement's participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision that must be made by a police chief, working with his or her elected officials, community leaders, and citizens.
Because the question of state, tribal, or local law enforcement's participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision, the IACP believes that any legislative proposal to enlist the assistance of nonfederal agencies in immigration enforcement must be based on the completely voluntary cooperation of the state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies.
As a result, the IACP opposes any legislative proposals that seek to coerce cooperation through the use of sanction mechanisms that would withhold federal assistance funds from states or localities. ■