WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, last night voted for H.R. 5855, the Fiscal Year 2013 Department of Homeland Appropriations Act. The bill provides $39.1 billion in non-emergency discretionary spending for programs and operations at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - $484 million below Fiscal Year 2012 levels and $393 million below the President’s request.

“As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I am proud my colleagues and I produced a smart, responsible bill that achieves more with less,” said Rep. Dent. “We have demonstrated that by improving the efficiency of federal programs, spending can be controlled without sacrificing the safety and security of the American people. Despite a cut of $484 million, H.R. 5855 thoroughly addresses our nation’s most-pressing homeland security needs. The bill includes ample funding for our first responders, provides for the largest force of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in history and expands Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention capacity to record levels.”

Notably, H.R. 5855 features $2.8 billion for first responder grant programs administrated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including $670 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants and Emergency Management Performance Grants, $10.2 billion for CBP operations and $5.5 billion for ICE to support important initiatives like the Visa Security Program.

During consideration of the bill in the Committee on Appropriations, Rep. Dent joined Reps. Tom Latham (R-IA), Nita Lowey (D-NY) and David Price (D-NC) in offering a bipartisan amendment facilitating greater flexibility in the utilization of first responder grants. The amendment, supported by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), will allow local fire departments to use grant funding in a manner that best suits the needs of their community.

“I am very pleased our bipartisan proposal to promote flexibility in the utilization of FEMA’s fire grants was included in the legislation passed by the House last night,” said Rep. Dent. “This minor modification will have a major impact on the ability of local fire departments to make the most of limited federal resources.”