As the House began work Wednesday on a $38.9 billion measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security in 2014, both parties took the chance on the House floor to shift money away from management and bureaucracy, and into operations outside of Washington, D.C.
The underlying bill included an almost $80 million cut in "managerial overhead" for the Federal Air Marshals, and a 5% cut in TSA "managerial programs."
As amendments were offered on the House floor, those efforts to cut back on management continued:
+ The House approved an amendment from Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) which cut $2.8 million out of the budget for the Homeland Security Secretary and "Executive Management" and shifted $1.8 million of that to the U.S. Fire Administration.
+ Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ) followed that up with an amendment that took $5 million from the Under Secretary for Management, and shifted those resources into firefighter assistance grants, a very popular program with both parties.
+ Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) continued that move by getting the House to adopt a plan that shifted another $7.6 million out of the Under Secretary for Management to FEMA Urban Search and Rescue plans.
+ Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) also dipped into the Office of the Under Secretary for Management and pushed through a plan to shift $15.6 million into Surface Transportation Security.
(For those wondering how much money the Under Secretary for Management has in this budget - if you guessed $171 million - you are the winner.)
(The bill says of that $171 million, no more than $2,250 "shall be for official reception and representation expenses; in other words, no parties there.)
As for other amendments that took a chunk out of DHS bureaucracy:
+ Rep. John Mica (R-FL) was successful in his plan to shift $31.8 million from "TSA administration" to the private Screening Partnership Program; he withdrew another plan to transfer out another $23.3 million.
+ Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) added a plan to reduce TSA Transportation Security Support by $4 million, moving that money into TSA security for rural airports.
Not every amendment succeeded - for example, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) offered a plan to get rid of the TSA, but that was rejected on a voice vote, as Broun did not force the House to go on record on the issue. It would have saved $4.8 billion.
One item that was mentioned in debate on this spending bill was the emergency resources of FEMA, which has had to deal with the damage from severe weather in Oklahoma and other states.
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said during debate that FEMA has about $11 billion on hand in its disaster relief accounts.
This measure would add another $6.2 billion to that account, which puts FEMA is strong shape going into the Atlantic Hurricane season.
The House is expected to finish work on the Homeland Security bill on Thursday; it is the second of twelve annual spending bills that are supposed to be finished by October 1, the start of the fiscal year.