The House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee on Thursday along party lines approved a $60.3 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which would cover discretionary appropriations for fiscal year 2023 that begins on Oct. 1.
The panel approved the bill by voice vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. The $60.3 billion is $2.8 billion more than Congress provided in FY ’22 and $3.6 billion more than requested.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the subcommittee, said that about $1.5 billion of the added funding is “just to maintain current services across the department.” Allard is retiring from Congress at the end of 2022.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), the ranking member on the subcommittee, during the markup outlined his party’s grievances with the bill.
“Yet much of the funding in the current bill does not support the fundamental priorities necessary to secure our homeland,” Fleischmann said in his opening remarks. “To get this bill to the president’s desk we must come to a reasonable agreement on a thorny border, transportation security and immigration issues portfolio.”
Current immigration levels are “unsustainable,” stretching border and immigration officers “thin,” he said.
“We risk emboldening the cartels by telegraphing weakness on border security and our lack of commitment to robust enforcement of immigration laws,” Fleischmann said.
Republicans would like to see funding for a wall along at least some portions of the southern border. The administration isn’t seeking funding for a wall and the subcommittee didn’t provide any.
The subcommittee markup would increase funding for Coast Guard operations, support and acquisition but doesn’t include resources for more ships than requested. Fleischmann said that based on a recent visit to the Coast Guard’s Fourteenth District, which extends from Hawaii across most of the Central and Western Pacific, the service needs more ships.
The visit “made it clear that we need additional ships, especially to counter the growing influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said. His spokesman later told Defense Daily that the congressman has “been very strongly supportive of funding additional Fast Response Cutters and National Security Cutters (NSC). He believes it is crucial to our national security to ensure the Coast Guard has the cutters needed to guard our territorial waters.”
Congress in FY ’22 provided $130 million for two FRCs beyond the current program of record, which is 64 of the 154-foot patrol boats, but the Coast Guard says that amount isn’t enough to cover two vessels.
A Coast Guard spokesman told Defense Daily that the service “is working with the Department of Homeland Security to determine the future Fast Response Cutter program of record.”
There is interest from some in Congress to add one more high-endurance NSC to the fleet beyond the 11 budgeted but, so far, the Coast Guard has resisted. The service’s primary acquisition priorities are its medium-endurance offshore patrol cutters, of which 25 are planned, and the new heavy icebreaker, the polar security cutter.