Tuesday, February 6, 2007
President Bush would increase the Department of Homeland Security budget by $2.3 billion, to $34.4 billion, boosting spending to secure the borders and detect nuclear materials. There would also be $1 billion for better communications systems for first responders.
Other priorities include $1.8 billion for a "virtual fence" at the border, 3,000 new Border Patrol agents and 600 new detention beds; $80 million more for nuclear detection; and $224 million to hire airport security checkers.
But states and cities would see cuts of $1.2 billion in grants for anti-terrorism, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical teams.
The story was similar at the Justice Department, where overall spending would increase about 1 percent, to $20.2 billion, with new outlays targeting terrorism, violent crime and illicit drugs. But the budget would cut $1.7 billion from local law enforcement assistance, such as the popular Community Oriented Policing Services program, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Congressional leaders immediately criticized the cuts. Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, accused the White House of "depriving our communities of the critical support they need to operate in the post-9/11 world."
In other homeland security spending, funding for the Coast Guard's troubled fleet-replacement program would fall from $1.1 billion to $800 million. But the FBI would be a big winner, with its budget growing about 13 percent, to $6.4 billion.
-- Spencer S. Hsu