Grand Rapids area Representative Vern Ehlers has joined a sizable Republican minority–including Holland area Representative Pete Hoekstra–in voting against the 2008 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. The bill, passed in the House of Representatives Friday by a vote of 268-150, gives the agency $37.4 billion dollars. The bill includes $3 billion in grants to states for emergency “first responders” and $5 billion for transportation security needs. $8.8 billion was allocated for customs and border protection, $6.6 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, $8.4 billion for the Coast Guard, and $7.4 billion for FEMA.
President George W. Bush has promised to veto the bill because it exceeds by $23 billion spending limits sought by the White House and rejects cuts in the training of first responders. Additionally, the White House and many Republicans have opposed the bill’s requirements that contractors pay a local living wage and a provision delaying the implementation of a new personnel system for the agency until litigation with unions is resolved.