Department of Homeland Security Appropriations, FY2018: Current Action

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up its version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, 2018 the week of October 23, 2017.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the act as Division E and Division M of H.R. 3354, a consolidated appropriations act that now contains all 12 annual appropriations bills. H.R. 3354 passed the House by a vote of 211-198 (Roll No. 528) on September 14, 2017. The appropriations usually included in the annual appropriations bill for DHS were split between the two divisions because of how those bills were considered on the House floor.

For details on the publicly available contents of these bills, see CRS Report R44927, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2018 and other CRS reports on the subject.

The House Appropriations Committee reported out its version of the DHS Appropriations Act, 2018, H.R. 3355, by a vote of 30-22 on July 18, 2017. Among the appropriations in the bill was $2,008,719,000 in a Procurement, Construction, and Improvements appropriation for the DHS's U.S. Customs and Border Protection component (CBP).

The next week, the House took up H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act (H.R. 3219), the first of two consolidated appropriations acts considered by the House in the summer of 2017. It contained four annual appropriations bills, but not the annual appropriations for DHS.

On July 26, 2017, H.R. 3219 began consideration under a structured rule (H.Res. 473), making certain amendments in order. The next day, a second rule (H.Res. 478) was adopted, which provided for additional amendments, including one offered by House Appropriations Committee, Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter. This amendment added a new division to H.R. 3219, which consisted only of a Procurement, Construction and Improvements appropriation for CBP. The appropriation would provide $1,571,239,000 for construction of physical barriers along the Southwestern border of the United States. This funding was specifically directed in the amendment text as follows:

  • $784,000,000 for 32 miles of new border bollard fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas;
  • $498,000,000 for 28 miles of new bollard levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas;
  • $251,000,000 for 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego, California; and
  • $38,239,000 for planning for border wall construction.

The overall total of $1,571,239,000 and first three directed amounts were identical to specific recommendations by the House Committee on Appropriations for border infrastructure construction in H.Rept. 115-239, the committee report accompanying H.R. 3355.

Because of the provisions of the rule, which said the amendment was to "be considered as adopted," no separate vote was taken on adoption of the amendment.

An attempt to strike the funding through a motion to recommit the bill failed by a roll call vote, 193-234 (Roll No. 424).

The House then took up the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354) the week of September 4, 2017. The legislation was originally presented as Rules Committee Print 115-31, a consolidated appropriations bill which contained the text of the eight remaining annual appropriations bills that were not included in H.R. 3219, including H.R. 3355, with some modifications.

The primary changes to H.R. 3355 from its House Appropriations Committee-reported form were a reduction in CBP's Procurement, Construction, and Improvement appropriation to account for the passage by the House of the funding for border barrier planning and construction in H.R. 3219, and the addition of specific legislative direction for the use of the remaining appropriation. The direction is comprehensive, exceeding that provided in the committee report. The bill also includes new general provisions required for inclusion of a stand-alone committee-reported bill in a consolidated appropriations bill and conforming to the likely terms of floor debate.

The first rule governing the debate on H.R. 3354 incorporated the text of House-passed H.R. 3219 as part of an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the bill. Thus Division E of H.R. 3354 is the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, and Division M is the Department of Homeland Security Border Infrastructure Construction Appropriation Act, 2018.

During floor debate, Division E was amended by five stand-alone amendments and one 14-piece en bloc amendment. These reduced appropriations for secretarial and management accounts, with smaller reductions for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while increasing funding for the Office of Inspector General, Science and Technology Directorate, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This Insight will be updated as events warrant.