On April 9, The White House announced that President Biden plans to keep overall discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) flat. The President’s 2022 request provides $52.0 billion for DHS, which is approximately equal to the 2021 enacted level. What does this mean for transportation security?
The discretionary request provides about $1.2 billion for border infrastructure which includes modernization of land ports of entry and investments in modern border security technology. These investments are intended to improve security screening to guard against human smuggling and trafficking, the movement of illicit drugs and weapons, the entry of undocumented migrants, and the import of unlawful goods, as well as provide for the more efficient processing of legal trade, travel, and commerce.
Additional funding within DHS is proposed for immigration programs and border operations, which will have a knock-on effect for transportation. The now infamous “border wall” will not receive any funding.
There is also a proposal for $599 million for investments in research, development, and innovation across DHS, which the request notes would “focus primarily on climate resilience, cybersecurity data analytics, and transportation security technologies”. This investment proposal is timely, as researchers and manufacturers develop emerging technologies, such as those using artificial intelligence and machine learning, to secure transportation while also reducing contact points to limit the spread of viruses and disease. The Transportation Security Laboratory at DHS’s Science & Technology Directorate is currently evaluating both artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that have the potential to improve detection of concealed threats on passengers and their personal property.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking at a discretionary request of $25.6 billion, which is a $317 million increase over total 2021 enacted funding. It is worth bearing in mind that the majority of DOT’s financial assistance to States, localities, and transportation authorities is provided through mandatory funding derived from the Highway Trust Fund, as part of multiyear surface transportation authorizations.
Biden’s request for DOT includes over $900 million for rail with an additional $2.7 billion for Amtrak, and $2.5 billion for transit with a further $250 million spending for clean energy. While no figure is outlined for aviation safety, the request notes that it “supports the growing costs of managing the national airspace system (NAS), continues investments to improve aviation safety, integrates new NAS entrants including unmanned aircraft systems and commercial space launches, and improves data analytics and decisionmaking.” The proposal also invests in the sustainment of legacy NAS systems and in the deployment of air traffic modernizations.
The discretionary request also provides funding to purchase the fifth and final State maritime academy training vessel within DOT’s Maritime Administration.