This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Neugebauer (R-TX) to H.R. 2892, the bill providing funding for the Department of Homeland Security for the 2010 fiscal year. The bill included $42.6 billion for the department, which represented an increase of $2.6 billion over the corresponding figures for fiscal year 2009. The Neugebauer Amendment would have reduced the overall spending in H.R. 2892 by $2.76 billion through reductions in the amounts for a number of the programs funded by the bill. The $2.76 billion reduction was arrived at by adding all sums that Department of Homeland Security programs received in the previously-enacted economic stimulus measure. That previous measure had been enacted in response to the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
The largest proposed reductions were $1 billion for the aviation safety function of the Transportation Security Administration; $420 million for the Customs and Border Protection agency facilities management; $300 million for FEMA's state and local grant and assistance programs and $210 million for its Firefighter Assistance Grant program; and $200 million for the Homeland Security Department Office of Under Secretary for Management.
Rep. Neugebauer began his statement in support of the amendment by noting the current serious economic conditions and the record-setting deficits that the government was projected to run, and said “people back home are having to tighten their belts . . . (and) we're going to have to tighten our belts.” He argued that, by only reducing categories in the amounts of stimulus funding they received, the amendment “preserves the many programs that are already important . . . but it doesn't let (the government) continue to spend this $2.7 billion that, quite honestly, we didn't have to begin with.”
Rep. Price (D-NC), the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, who was managing H.R. 2892, opposed the amendment. He characterized it as “destructive” and “indiscriminate”, and argued that the impact would be “very different from the effect of simply rescinding Recovery Act (stimulus) funds. Rather than erasing the effect of stimulus moneys provided through this title in the current year, it guts the ability (of the department) . . . to function in the coming year. It would nearly eliminate the budgets for hiring personnel, managing equipment purchases, departmental security, and Department of Homeland Security facilities.
Price claimed that, if the amendment were made to the funding bill, the Customs and Border Protection agency “couldn't pay rent for their existing facilities. Modernization of airport screening for explosives and advancements permitting passengers to safely carry larger containers of liquids onto planes would grind to a halt. I think that's probably enough to illustrate just how destructive this amendment would be and how indiscriminate it would be.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 113-318. One hundred and nine Republicans and four Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifty Democrats and sixty-eight Republicans voted “nay”. As a result the proposed reductions to Department of Homeland Department 2010 fiscal year funding were not made.