Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) voted to approve sweeping legislation to protect America and invest in homeland security today. The Homeland Security Appropriations bill was approved by a vote of 268-150.

One of the top priorities in the bill is border control. It provides 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents, provides first responders with additional training and equipment, and improves aviation and port security.

“My goal was to secure the Port of Houston and to beef up border security,” Green said. “I’m proud to pass legislation that makes the border a top priority and gives the men and women who respond to emergencies the tools and resources they need.”

The earmark-free bill was delayed for three days by Republicans who wanted earmarks to appear in this and other appropriations bills instead of being inserted during a House-Senate conference. Democrats said the more than 30,000 earmark requests would not be thoroughly reviewed in time to be attached to the appropriations bills, but agreed to include them in bills brought to the floor after the Energy-Water appropriations bill next week.

The 2008 Homeland Security Appropriations bill:

  • Includes funding for 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents, bringing the number of Border Patrol agents to 17,819.
  • Rejects the President’s proposed $1 billion cut for training and equipment for first responders and instead expands support for local law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders.
  • Invests in port security by significantly increasing funding to protect critical port facilities and infrastructure.
  • Improves aviation security by providing funding for new explosive detection systems at airports and funding to double the amount of cargo screened on passenger aircraft.

The legislation approved by the House today also includes strong oversight provisions to ensure Congressional oversight of money spent by the Department of Homeland Security and eliminates no-bid contracts.

“The American people expect their dollars to be spent on important efforts to secure our nation, not wasted on no-bid contracts,” said Green. “The Democratic Congress has insisted on tough new accountability measures to ensure we protect our communities and spend taxpayers’ dollars the right way.”