Homeland Security Measure Cleared for Senate Debate with Increases for Border Security, Immigration Enforcement, FEMA Disaster Relief Fund & U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today fully supported a Senate Appropriations Committee measure to provide full funding for President Trump’s border security initiatives, including the border wall.

Hyde-Smith, who serves on the committee and its Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, voted to advance the FY2020 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill to the full Senate for consideration.  The bill funds U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) missions, including border security, immigration enforcement, disaster relief, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The border security and immigration enforcement funding in this bill reflects the need to address the serious problems we face on our borders.  The wall funding and other resources would give agencies more capacity to deal with the overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers trying to get into the country,” Hyde-Smith said

“Partisan efforts to reduce this border security funding is simply turning a blind eye to the serious and continuous stress being placed on our borders and on the personnel who enforce our immigration laws,” she said.  “This is not a perfect bill, but I’m pleased it will support the work done in Mississippi to protect our citizens.”

The committee-passed measure is now available for consideration by the full Senate.

The bill increases funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including the President’s $5.0 billion request for the border wall system, technology, and increased border personnel. The Senate bill also increases detention center bed capacity to help keep pace with the influx of illegal border crossings.  It also invests in Immigration and Custom Enforcement missions to combat drug and human trafficking and other transnational criminal activity.

Within the CBP account, Hyde-Smith worked to secure $32.5 million to recapitalize the CBP Light Enforcement Helicopters fleet.  These aircraft are deployed for border surveillance and law enforcement missions.

The U.S. Coast Guard would also receive increased funding to fulfill its domestic and overseas missions.  The bill recommends a $10.8 million increase for the Maritime Security Response Teams (MSRT), which are the Coast Guard’s first responders to maritime terrorist situations.  These deployable forces specialize in advanced interdiction, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism.

Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate funding will support S&T laboratories, Cargo and Port of Entry Programs, Port and Coastal Surveillance, University Programs, as well as the Canine Detection Teams, among other important research initiatives.  USM, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg are among the organizations involved in numerous projects for the S&T Directorate.

Also important to Mississippi, the committee-passed bill includes $21.8 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), of which $17.8 billion is for the Disaster Relief Fund.  The bill includes strong support for state and local first responders and emergency management personnel.

On Thursday, Hyde-Smith, chairman of the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, gained committee approval of her FY2020 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill.  This measure denies a pay raise for members of Congress and funds security requirements for the U.S. Capitol Complex. (Read more here.)

The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved the three other FY2020 appropriations measures, which completes the panel’s markup of bills for the upcoming fiscal year. The following are among the highlights of items of interest to Mississippi in these bills:

FY2020 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

  • Space Launch System (SLS) – $2.58 billion for the NASA SLS program. Within this program, engine testing for SLS will be conducted at the Stennis Space Center.
  • NASA Space Grant – $47 million for the Space Grant program that promotes long-term improvements in research capabilities of institutions, including the University of Mississippi.
  • Justice Department Law Enforcement Grant Programs – Increased funding for programs and anti-opioid initiatives that benefit Mississippi law enforcement and courts, including Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants ($545 million), Regional Informational Sharing Activities ($38 million), and Drug Courts ($80 million).
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) High Performance Computing – $13.2 million for NOAA high performance computing. Mississippi State University is home to Orion, a newly installed NOAA high-performance computer, which will support environmental, weather, and climate modeling research, as well as university researchers and students working with NOAA, MSU, the Northern Gulf Institute, and other institutions.
  • Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) – Provides sufficient funding for NOAA Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes, which includes the Mississippi State University-led NGI housed at Stennis Space Center.  NGI also includes the University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and NOAA.
  • National Sea Grant College Program – $75 million, including language that directs NOAA to continue STEM-related education activities and its National Sea Grant Law Center partnership at the University of Mississippi.
  • Aquaculture Research – $5.0 million to support oyster aquaculture research; $15.5 million for marine aquaculture research, $500,000 above FY19; and $13 million to support marine aquaculture research and development in partnership with universities, including with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, $1 million above FY19.

FY2020 Interior, Environment Appropriations Bill

  • Yazoo Backwater Area – Language directing the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue working on a flood control solution for the Yazoo Backwater Area, and to report to the Committee on their progress within 30 days.
  • U.S. Geological Survey Aquifer Study – $6.0 million for the USGS research on declining aquifer in the lower Mississippi River Valley.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf of Mexico Program – $17 million to address hypoxia in the Gulf and increase conservation efforts on working-lands within the Gulf region.
  • Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant Program – $172.3 million for Section 319 nonpoint source grant program to assist states in addressing nonpoint sources of water pollution, such as agricultural runoff and soil erosion.  The grant program will help agencies like the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality work with local communities with water quality projects.

FY2020 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

  • Foreign Military Financing Program, Israel – $3.3 billion for military aid for Israel, in addition to making funds available for construction of the New Embassy Compound in Jerusalem.
  • Countering Chinese Influence Fund – $375 million to combat malign Chinese influence activities and increase transparency and accountability associated with the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Countering Russian Influence Fund – $285 million.
  • United States Commission on International Religious Freedom – $4.5 million.
  • Safeguarding the Right to Life – The bill supports important policy provisions to ensure the respect for life around the globe.  The bill:  maintains the Mexico City Policy, prohibiting U.S. assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions; maintains the “Helms Amendment,” banning the use of foreign aid funding for abortions; ensures family planning programs funded through this bill are voluntary; and prohibits funding of organizations the President determines to support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith Press Release