U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted for the $34.8 billion Homeland Security Department appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2007.

“Port and cargo security, first responders, border control – these are all key components of our national security,” Smith said.  “This bill, while not perfect, includes key funds for these essential priorities.”

Among the items funded are:

  • $2.8 billion for border patrol, adding 1,500 new Border Patrol agents.   However, this increase is 500 agents below what Congress authorized in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
  • $1.2 billion for border fences, vehicle barriers, technology and infrastructure.
  • $4.3 billion for port, container and cargo security. 
  • $1.2 billion for high-risk area grants for state and local first responders, including $770 million for Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants, $175 million for rail security, and
  • $74 million for other infrastructure protection.
  • $375 million for state and local terrorism prevention grants.

The bill would also overhaul the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and requires the FEMA Director have extensive emergency response and crisis management experience.  It would also prevent FEMA funds from being diverted to other agencies and requires improved coordination between federal, state, and local emergency response organizations.

“Our bungled response to Hurricane Katrina revealed the stunning level of ineptitude that had taken root at FEMA,” Smith said.  “I hope this bill will help ensure this Administration does not repeat its past mistake of hiring someone with political connections instead of real-world qualifications.”

The bill passed the House by a vote of 412 to 6.  The bill must now be passed by the Senate before being signed into law by the President.