Congress approves homeland security funding

| 9/26/2003

Congress this week approved the first homeland security appropriations bill, which goes to President Bush for his signature.

The measure does not fund screening of passenger jet cargo, but it includes $29.4 billion for fiscal 2004 to protect borders, support first responders, upgrade transportation security and to develop antiterrorism technologies.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the money "will strengthen our border and port security by adding more people, resources and technologies."

But some Democrats said the funds were insufficient.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-MA, who pushed unsuccessfully for the air cargo screening, called it a "gaping hole in aviation security."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-CT, said the Department of Homeland Security is being asked to win the war at home with troops that are stretched too thin.

The funding bill, which came out of a House and Senate conference committee Sept. 17, includes $125 million for inspection technologies and operations for vehicles and cargo, $61.7 million for the Container Security Initiative and $215.6 million for border and airspace security.

It also calls for $5.2 billion for the Transportation Security Administration and $918 million to develop radiological, nuclear, chemical, biological and high-explosive countermeasures, and funding for the rapid development of homeland security technologies.