This was a vote on final passage of legislation that would provide annual funding for Homeland Security Department programs.
In total, the bill would provide approximately $42 billion for Homeland Security programs in fiscal year 2012, including $11.8 billion for U.S. Customs and border security, $5.8 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $10 billion for the Coast Guard, and $7.8 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (which is responsible for airport security, cargo inspection, etc.).
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) urged support for the Homeland Security bill: “This bill before us today, perhaps more than any other bill, exemplifies the difficult choices that need to be made in order to address our nation's fiscal crisis. This bill demonstrates how we can fully fund vital security programs while also reducing spending overall. Furthermore, this bill does not represent a false choice between fiscal responsibility and security. Both are national security priorities, and both are vigorously addressed in this bill. I am under no illusion that everyone here in this chamber will agree with the spending reductions included in this legislation; but now, more than ever, our government needs fiscal discipline, and this bill takes the necessary steps toward that goal. The bottom line: more money and more government do not equal more security. So in this time of skyrocketing debt and persistent threats, we must get our homeland security priorities right.”
Rep. David Price (D-NC) opposed the bill: “For the second year in a row, overall funding for the Department of Homeland Security will drop. The bill decreases funding for Homeland Security by 6.8 percent below the president's request [the amount of Homeland Security funding requested by President Obama] and essentially returns funding to the 2009 level, which is concerning to many people, including myself….Providing a total of $1 billion for all state and local grants, or 65 percent below the president's request, and providing $350 million for firefighter assistance grants--that's almost 50 percent below an already reduced request--breaks faith with the states and localities that depend on us as partners to secure our communities. These cuts will be especially harmful as many of our states and municipalities are being forced to slash their own budgets. For example, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters, 1,600 fewer local firefighters will be on the job if the cuts in this bill are enacted. I can't conceive of any defensible argument for cuts of this magnitude, cuts that come on top of cuts to grants already made in the fiscal 2011 appropriations. They will do great damage to local preparedness, to emergency response in our communities, and to the recovering economy.”
The House passed this bill by a vote of 231-188. Voting “yea” were 214 Republicans and 17 Democrats. 168 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 20 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation that would provide annual funding for Homeland Security Department programs. The Senate, however, was expected to bring up its own Homeland Security funding bill.