Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Tuesday released all 12 fiscal year 2021 proposed funding bills for federal government, including a $50.1 billion budget for the Department of Homeland Security that would fully fund the Trump administration’s $2 billion request for the border wall system.
The wall funding is likely a non-starter given that House Democrats, furious with President Trump’s reprogramming of billions of dollars from elsewhere in the federal budget for the wall, zeroed the request in their version of the FY ’21 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. With the outcome of control of the Senate unclear pending two runoff elections in Georgia, and Trump trying to contest the outcome of last week’s presidential election, the ability to predict an outcome for border security funding in FY ’21 is highly dynamic.
Shelby in a statement said that “By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee.”
The Senate Appropriators proposed DHS bill would fund 82 miles of border wall system and bring the total appropriations for the physical barrier to $17 billion since FY ’17.
The proposed bill would also provide $48 million for border security technology, including $28 million for Autonomous Surveillance Towers, which are provided by Anduril Industries. The bill also includes $15 million for Mobile Modular Surveillance Systems and $5 million for small unmanned aerial surveillance systems.
The Senate appropriators also want a briefing from DHS Customs and Border on a pilot effort examining High Altitude Pseudo Satellites for border security. The committee says that these satellites combined with advanced geospatial analytics “can provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities across large named areas of interest along the southwest border.”
House appropriators added $190 million to the administration’s request for border security technology between ports of entry.
The House appropriators also added $190 million for non-intrusive inspection equipment to scan cargo and vehicles at ports of entry. Senate appropriators didn’t add any funding for NII equipment, asking instead for a briefing by CBP on plans to spend nearly $630 million appropriated for these technologies the past two fiscal years.
Senate appropriators also recommend $52.3 million for two Multirole Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) for CBP’s Office of Air and Marine Operations and another $18.8 million for aircraft sensor upgrades. House appropriators recommend $86 million for three of the aircraft, which are supplied by Sierra Nevada Corp.
The Senate bill says that CBP currently has funding for 26 MEA aircraft toward a total requirement of 38.