Funding Bills Advance to Full Senate

Prioritizes Security, the Arctic, & Bolsters Coast Guard Capabilities in Alaska

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved both the Homeland Security and State & Foreign Operations Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2020, sending them to the full Senate for consideration. As a member of the Committee, U.S. Senator Murkowski (R-AK) worked to secure provisions to support the U.S. Coast Guard with the assets and infrastructure they need to keep our people and our waters safe, prioritize our nation’s leadership in the Arctic, as well as invest in security and improving disaster response. Additionally, Senator Murkowski cosponsored an amendment to prevent children from being separated from their family at the border.

“This bill prioritizes the safety and security of Americans. This bill makes investments in security—from physical barriers to cybersecurity—to keep Americans safe. Significant funding for fire and SAFER grants will help communities improve fire and emergency response capabilities. We also provide support for the Coast Guard to carry out its mission. As Alaska has more coastline and waterways than all of the other U.S. states’ coastlines combined, the importance of the Coast Guard presence in the region is critical. I’m proud we provide significant funding for Coast Guard assets, including for housing these men and women in uniform,” said Senator Murkowski. “With increased activity and interest in the Arctic, it’s imperative we take our Arctic role seriously—to defend our interests and continue to promote a region of peace.”

The State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill provides funding to strengthen federal programs and operations that support national security and American values abroad. The bill funds Department of State operations, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Migration and Refugee Assistance, and International Disaster Assistance. Additionally, the bill prioritizes America’s developing role in the Arctic by directing the Department of State to implement a strategy for U.S. leadership and to appoint a Special Representative for the region.

The Homeland Security Appropriations bill funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CPB), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC).

Homeland Security Bill Highlights

Coast Guard Assets and Infrastructure

  • Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC): Provides $457 million for construction of an Offshore Patrol Cutter to replace the Coast Guard’s aging medium endurance cutters which will conduct missions on the high seas and coastal approaches. 
  • Fast Response Cutters (FRC): Increases funding to $240 million for Fast Response Cutters, which are in various phases of the construction process, to replace the aging 110-foot patrol boats. These FRCs will enhance the Coast Guard’s coastal capability to perform search and rescue operations and enhance resiliency to disasters.
  • Polar Security Cutters (PSC): Provides $35 million towards acquisition for a polar security cutter as well as $15 million for a service-life extension to rehabilitate and restore the critical systems onboard the icebreaker POLAR STAR.
  • Shore-side Assets: Funds Coast Guard shore-side infrastructure projects, including $32.5 million to build housing in Kodiak, Alaska to accommodate increases in personnel associated with new assets that will be homeported in Alaska. Also includes $3 million for shore-side facility upgrades necessary for homeporting FRC’s in Kodiak.
  • Fishing Safety: Provides $6 million to help the Coast Guard implement the Fishing Safety Training and Fishing Safety Research Grant Programs, along with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Aviation and Border Security

  • Aviation Security: Includes $40 million for TSA to begin repaying airports that upgraded their explosive detection systems, post-9/11. 
  • Physical Barriers and Technology Support: Provides $5 billion for the border wall system—construction of new physical barriers, roads, facilities, cameras, and technology for the U.S southern border in the Border Patrol’s highest priority areas as well as support for upgrading and enhancing existing barriers.

FEMA Grants

  • Fire and SAFER Grants: Provides $710 million for grant programs to help fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters.
  • Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program: Helps states and communities with mitigation by provide accurate flood hazard and risk data by funding the program at $148 million.
  • Emergency Management Performance: Provides $355 million for this grant program which plays an important role in the implementation of the National Preparedness System.

State & Foreign Operation Bill Highlights

  • U.S. Leadership in the Arctic: Directs the Secretary of State to report on progress and steps taken to implement a strategy for U.S. leadership in the Arctic as well as to strengthen cooperation among the eight Arctic nations on vital Arctic issues. This includes peace and security, governance, climate change, economic development, environmental protection, health, education, and the Arctic Council.
  • U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic: Provides funding for a Special Representative to coordinate U.S. policy toward the Arctic, including responding to disputes and needs in that region and representing the United States, as appropriate, in multilateral meetings and discussions.
  • Transboundary Watershed Management: Encourages the Secretary of State to continue working with relevant Federal agencies to identify remaining gaps in the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between British Columbia and Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, relating to mining activity in transboundary watersheds. Also directs the Secretary of State to report on the progress and activities of the interagency working group tasked with addressing transboundary watershed governance issues between the United States and Canada. 
  • Pacific Salmon Treaty: Provides $5.9 million for the Pacific Salmon Commission, the body formed by the U.S. and Canada tasked to implement the Pacific Salmon Treaty.  Also include $1.7 million for the Mark Selective Fishery Fund.

Senator Murkowski is chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee and chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She is a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which is chaired by Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV).

Related Issues: Arctic, Defense