The chairwoman of the House panel that oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security last Friday evening applauded the general direction of the Biden administration’s top line budget request for the department but questioned whether the topline is enough and pointed out the lack of clarity in how the budget supports Coast Guard needs and whether it does enough in the area of cybersecurity.
“The budget request for the Department of Homeland Security makes clear that investments by the Biden administration will be better targeted toward actual threats to the American people and consistent with the nation’s humanitarian values and legal obligations to migrants,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), chair of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, said in a statement. “At the same time, it is not clear that the proposal provides enough resources for the department as a whole, including much needed support for recapitalizing Coast Guard assets or providing enough of an increase for cybersecurity to address the current risk environment. I look forward to seeing the details of the full budget request in the coming weeks.”
The administration last Friday released its “skinny” budget request for the federal government, proposing $52 billion for DHS in fiscal year 2022, a scant 0.2 percent or $100 million above the amount enacted by Congress in FY ’21. The government’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees DHS policies and organization, also dinged the proposal for its “lack of budget clarity” for the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The request was notable for its lack of detail, except in a few areas, and even then, line items were scarce. The White House said more information will be released in the coming months.
The DHS request includes $2.1 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), $110 million more than appropriated in FY ’21, but makes no mention of the primary programs the agency uses to help defend federal civilian networks from cyber intrusions. The request includes $20 million for a new Cyber Response and Recovery Fund.
Katko approved the direction of the proposed spending for CISA.
“The increase in funding is a good first step,” Katko also said in a statement last Friday evening. “However, it’s just that, a first step. As I’ve said, CISA needs sustained, robust funding to carry out its mission and nimbly respond to evolving threats. Without question, its should be a $5 billion agency in the coming years.”
Katko, like the rest of the committee, is strong proponent of resourcing CISA to better help state, local, tribal and territorial governments with their cyber security needs.
“I am pleased to see the investment in the Cyber Response and Recovery Fund and would encourage the Biden administration to work with Congress to get it right,” he said.
The budget request also includes $1.2 billion for border security, including funding to modernize land ports of entry, and border security technology and assets. However, there is no detail on specifics.
The administration is not requesting funding to continue building a wall along the southern U.S. border and proposes to cancel unobligated balances for physical barriers.
Katko strongly criticized the administration’s approach to border security.
“By eliminating border wall funding, President Biden is allowing cartels, smugglers, criminals, and traffickers to continue exploiting the border,” he said. “In a matter of months, we’ve seen the consequences of these open border policies. As we speak, our Border Patrol are wresting with the greatest surge of migrants at the southwest border in over 20 years.”