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House passes $46 billion homeland security appropriations bill

National Security Cutter

Despite threats of a Presidential veto, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $46 billion fiscal year 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations bill on June 7.

The measure includes $5 billion in disaster relief funding, $138 million to complete deployment Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities biometric information sharing program, as well as funding for the Coast Guard’s sixth National Security Cutter and materials for a seventh.

The House voted 234-182 to approve the measure. The Senate has yet to take up homeland security funding legislation and may wait until later in the summer to do so.

The Obama administration, on June 6, had threatened to veto the House bill citing a raft of issues, including funding for the Coast Guard National Security Cutter program, lowered funding levels for Secure Communities,  and what it said were provisions that undermined key investments in homeland security, including cuts to aviation security activities, reductions to critical grant programs, and elimination of key consolidation efforts to improve operations across DHS enterprise operations.

Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border & Maritime Security was encouraged by the bill’s passage.

 “The funding in this bill prioritizes funding for security operations conducted by our Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection agents – men and women who are on the front lines of our fight to secure the borders every single day,” said Miller in a June 7 statement. “They have a demanding task, work in tough conditions, and I want to thank them for their service to this nation.  Additionally, the funding in this bill provides for $138 million to complete the deployment of the Secure Communities program which plays an essential role in identifying and removing dangerous criminals from our streets,” she said.