The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by a 21-9 vote on July 18. In a year of major differences in appropriations outcomes, the Senate DHS bill is notable for its similarities to the House version, passed June 6. The Senate version would provide $1.1 billion for DHS R&D, only $5 million less than the House version. Like the House version, the Senate bill would grant roughly half of the requested funding for construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a BioSafety Level 4 site in Kansas. Apart from this, both committees have met the Administration's request for most R&D accounts.
In historical terms, the Senate and House bills would allow the DHS R&D budget to continue its recovery from major cuts in recent years. Total DHS R&D would reach its highest point since FY 2009, adjusting for inflation.
Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). As recapped in the House entry below, S&T has in recent years come under scrutiny, and cuts have prompted a shift in focus to more off-the-shelf technology solutions, while still maintaining some capacity in more disruptive innovation. In the Senate bill, S&T would receive $970 million for R&D, substantially above funding levels from the prior two years and nearly even with the House version, though short of the President’s request. The Committee expressed particular concern over DHS outreach to industry, and echoed concerns heard in the House over R&D management practices.
As mentioned above, NBAF construction would receive nearly half of the proposed funding — specifically, $404 million as opposed to a request of $714 million. The Committee also provided $29.3 million to upgrade the current Plum Island research facility on Long Island, which NBAF is set to replace. The Committee argues such upgrades are necessary to allow work at Plum Island to continue while awaiting NBAF completion, which will take years. The Committee also provided a slight boost to S&T university programs.
Lastly, the Committee effectively met the Administration's request for R&D at the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, only trimming a few hundred thousand dollars from each account. The Transformational R&D account receives $75 million in the Senate bill, $291,000 below the request.