A congressional spending deal for the Department of Homeland Security didn’t give President Donald Trump near what he wanted to fund a physical wall along the southern border, but budget negotiators agreed to hefty increases overall in border security, particularly to inspect vehicles and cargo at ports of entry.

The compromise bill, signed by Trump, provides nearly $1.4 billion in spending for 55 miles of physical barriers in the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas. That amount is far less than the $5.7 billion Trump ultimately sought for wall construction.

Oddly, the original request for physical barriers was for $1.6 billion, an amount agreed to by most Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee last June when the committee marked up its version of the bill. But in July, the House Appropriations Committee, at the behest of the Trump administration, put $5 billion toward the wall, with no Democrats in support. Later in the summer, Trump upped the request to $5.7 billion.

VACIS mobile inspection system from Leidos. Photo: Leidos

The DHS spending bill includes $564 million for non-intrusive inspection (NII) technology at land ports of entry on the southwest border to expand screening of inbound cars and cargo for drugs and other contraband. The NII equipment typically consists of X-Ray and Gamma Ray-based systems to allow operators to peer inside the contents of vehicles and cargo and is provided by various vendors, including L3 Technologies [LLL], Leidos [LDOS], OSI Systems [OSIS] and Smiths Detection.

The Trump administration last February only requested $44 million for NII equipment in the fiscal year 2019 DHS bill. Earlier this month, House Democrats proposed $675 million for the systems.

The bill also includes $6 million for equipment to inspect outbound vehicles and $45 million for inspection equipment at international mail and express consignment facilities.

The budget proposal would also provide $77 million for equipment and related staffing to detect opioids entering the U.S. at international mail and express consignment facilities. This equipment would likely include trace detection systems.

Another $100 million is proposed for border security technology between the ports of entry. The administration requested a little more than $40 million for these systems last February and House Democrats had proposed $400 million but the final agreement says that there is still more than $200 million in unspent Customs and Border Protection funds from fiscal year 2018 for these technologies.

Border security technologies include Integrated Fixed Towers, Remote Video Surveillance System, mobile video surveillance systems, small unmanned aircraft systems, and technologies to detect cross border tunnels and surface movement. Elbit Systems [ESLT], General Dynamics [GD], FLIR Systems [FLIR] and Secure Technology are among the company’s providing border security sensor systems.

Another $112.6 million is proposed for CBP’s Office of Air and Marine for the purchase of three Multirole Enforcement Aircraft, which are built by Sierra Nevada Corp., related sensors, and marine vessels.

The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, which is responsible for developing and acquiring equipment for the detection of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, received $100.1 million to purchase large-scale and portable detection systems. The office received another $83 million for research and development purposes.

The Transportation Security Administration received over $94 million for its initiative to begin replacing existing X-Ray systems at airport checkpoints with computed tomography (CT)-based systems to scan carry-on bags. The agency is expected to award its first CT at the checkpoint contract next month to at least one of four bidders, Analogic, Integrated Defense & Security Solutions, L3 and Smiths Detection.

The award will be up for 300 systems initially. TSA has said it could eventually purchase around 2,400 CT systems for checkpoint deployments.

The CT systems provide three-dimensional images for operators and allow the images to be virtually rotated on the screen to enhance decision making. They will also allow travelers to leave their personal electronic devices, including laptop computers, inside their carry-on bags without the need for divestiture. Eventually, TSA hopes that the systems will allow travelers to leave their liquids inside carry-on bags.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees say they also want TSA to provide them with a classified briefing on the agency’s plans to identify 3D-printed guns at airport checkpoints.