Petty House Appropriations Bill Denies Funding for More Border Patrol Agents

‘The bill protects our nation …  against attempts by the Trump administration to steal funds from measures that actually keep us safe for a vanity border wall…’

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(Camila DeChalus, CQ-Roll Call) A draft of the House Appropriations Committee‘s fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill does not provide any funding for additional Border Patrol Agents, Border Patrol checkpoints or border barriers.

That decision by the partisan House Democrats is sure to invite strong opposition from Republicans and President Donald Trump.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection would receive $151 million for 1,846 new positions—including hiring more CBP officers, who staff the border entry ports, and mission support personnel. But the proposal contains no new money for Border Patrol officers, who actually monitor the border between official ports of entry.

CBP would also receive $242 million for new technology at the southern border and $21 million for body-worn cameras and other video systems.

The panel’s Homeland Security subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the draft bill Wednesday.

“The bill protects our nation and the American people in a way that upholds our values as Americans,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal–Allard, D-Calif., the Homeland Security subcommittee chairwoman.

“This includes upholding the rights and dignity of migrants, protecting against attempts by the Trump administration to steal funds from measures that actually keep us safe for a vanity border wall, and providing no funding for additional Border Patrol agents and checkpoints or border barriers,” Roybal–Allard said.

The highly provocative draft bill is expected to get obvious pushback from Republicans and Trump, who has reallocated funding from other departments to build a border wall.

The House Appropriations Committee’s draft fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill would provide $49.7 billion in net discretionary funds, or less than 1% above the current year’s comparable level.

However when extra disaster aid funds that aren’t subject to regular budget caps are added, plus some funding collected by agency fees, the measure would provide $2.2 billion above the current year, or almost 3.6 percent. The gross amount provided would be $1.9 billion below Trump’s budget request, according to a panel summary.

The bill also actually rescinds $601 million from the fiscal year 2019 Procurement, Construction, and Improvements account, equivalent to the amount the White House announced would be used from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund for border barrier construction.

The bill would provide $7.67 billion to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is $82 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $1.11 billion below Trump’s 2020 budget request.

The agency would receive $2.68 billion to maintain an average daily population of 34,000 single adults in detention, and an additional $387 million that could be used in response to the influx of migrants arriving at the southern border, which has reached 100,000 people per month.

The bill would also provide ICE with $64 million above Trump’s original $30 million request to continue expanding alternatives to detention, which is aimed at keeping undocumented immigrants out of detention centers. That program uses various kinds of electronic monitoring and case management services to keep track of undocumented migrants awaiting their immigration hearings.

The bill also seeks to increase oversight on ICE facilities to ensure the wellbeing of people detained. The bill would provide $21 million above the president’s request to fund at least two inspections per year at all facilities where detainees may be held for longer than 72 hours.

The bill includes $12 billion for the Coast Guard, which is $162 million above the 2019 enacted level and $894 million above the president’s request. That includes money for a second polar region Coast Guard cutter and $290 million for five Fast Response cutters.

For the Transportation Security Administration, the bill allocates $7.9 billion, which is $279 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, and $581 million above Trump’s request.

The bill includes $2 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, CISA, the year-old agency that monitors the federal government’s computer systems. That is $335 million above the 2019 enacted level, and $408 million above the president’s request.

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