The White House has threatened to veto a House bill providing funding for the Homeland Security Department, taking issue with many of the bill’s provisions. The administration also argued the House’s overarching budget strays too far from a spending framework agreed to last summer.
The House bill provides $39 billion in funding for DHS.
The administration’s veto threat came shortly after House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) threw his support behind the bill in a speech on the House floor Wednesday. The committee approved the bill last month.
Civilian pay freeze
The committee’s bill does not include funding for a pay raise for civilian DHS employees, a reduction of $80 million. The committee’s version includes full funding for the administration’s proposed military pay raise.
President Barack Obama recommended a 0.5 percent pay raise for all civilian federal employees, who are currently under a two-year freeze.
St. Elizabeth’s, data center funding on hold
In addition, the House bill includes no new funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project or for the department’s data-center consolidation effort.
The White House requested about $64.8 million to pay for the agency’s consolidation efforts.
House Republicans say they’re supportive of the goal of reducing IT costs, but that additional funding “has been foregone due to the need to offset significant shortfalls in the President’s budget request.”
The committee’s bill also includes no new construction funding for DHS’ St. Elizabeth’s headquarters consolidation plan — an $89 million cut. The bill does however provide enough funding for the Coast Guard to complete its headquarters move to the St. Elizabeth’s campus.
The administration also objected to a proposed $50 million cut for Federal Air Marshals and several abortion-related provisions attached to the bill.
White House supports cyber provisions
The administration’s statement does offer support for two key cybersecurity provisions:
$328 million for the the agency’s National Security Deployment and National Cybersecurity Protection System, or Einstein, which defends civilian agency computer networks
$202 million for a new continuous-monitoring program to protect federal networks
In his prepared remarks, Rogers called the committee’s proposed cuts “thoughtful, responsible reductions,” and said they “targeted programs with known inefficiencies, program delays, excessive overhead costs, or those that simply had lower budget requirements.”
However, the administration said the House bill “would cost jobs and hurt average Americans” and “degrade many of the basic government services on which the American people rely.”
Despite the administration’s vociferous reaction, the committee’s bill is still a long way from the President’s desk. It first must pass the full House and be reconciled with a very different Senate version. The Senate Appropriation Committee’s bill provides DHS with $45.2 billion.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 4-7 p.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.