President Biden’s budget request makes investments in hiring hundreds of additional Border Patrol agents, increasing TSA pay, ensuring the Secret Service is equipped to handle the upcoming presidential campaign season, and making sure agencies have what they need to move forward on cyber incident reporting and the biodefense strategy.
The president’s budget would allocate $60.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security — less than the $61 billion enacted for DHS in FY 2023. The only other cabinet department to be allocated less in the president’s budget request than funds received in the preceding year is the Transportation Department, which would see a 2.9 percent drop from $28.7 billion enacted in FY 2023 to $27.8 billion requested in FY 2024.
Other departments would see significant jumps from 2023 to 2024 if the president’s budget was to be enacted as written: The Treasury Department would get a 15 percent boost, the Agriculture Department would get 14.3 percent more, and the Department of Education would see a 13.6 percent hike in base discretionary funding. In Thursday remarks in Philadelphia on the release of his budget request, Biden did not discuss homeland security and focused on topics such as healthcare, energy, fixing infrastructure, and relying on American manufacturing.
The budget request includes “$1.6 billion in additional Transportation Security Administration Passenger Security Fee offsetting collections gained from ending mandatory contributions to deficit reduction,” the White House plan released by the Office of Management and Budget said. “When controlling for the Passenger Security Fee proposal, the DHS request is an increase of two-percent above the 2023 enacted level.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that with threats facing the homeland “more diverse and complex than they were twenty years ago, when the Department of Homeland Security was first created,” the president’s budget request “seeks to protect the security of the American people amidst a very dynamic threat environment.”
“This budget invests in programs that protect us against the threat of terrorism here and from abroad, strengthen the security of our borders, ensure the swift response to and recovery from natural disasters, and so much more,” Mayorkas said. “It equips our Department to address the threats of today and prepare for the threats of tomorrow.”
Certain priorities within DHS would see injections of funds under Biden’s request. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would get $800 million more than the funding enacted in FY 2023, bringing the agencies’ total funding to nearly $25 billion. The president is proposing a $4.7 billion Southwest Border Contingency Fund to respond to migration surges, “which if fully accessed, would yield an increase for the total DHS request of nine-percent above the 2023 enacted level.”
“Modeled on a contingency fund provided for unaccompanied children, each fiscal year, the fund would receive appropriations incrementally, and above the base appropriation, as Southwest border encounters reach pre-identified levels,” the budget proposal states. “DHS would be limited to obligating funds for surge-related functions and would transfer funds to CBP, ICE, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accounts with valid surge-related obligations.”
The budget includes funding for CBP to hire 350 more Border Patrol agents and an additional 460 processing assistants at CBP and ICE at a time when CBP has been heavily recruiting to expand its workforce, with a new incentive for agents announced in November. Biden’s proposal also says it would provide $535 million for border security technology at and between ports of entry — including $305 million for Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems “with a primary focus on fentanyl detection at ports of entry,” according to DHS — and $40 million “to combat human smuggling as well as illicit drug operations such as the production and distribution of fentanyl through the Repository for Analytics in a Virtualized Environment (RAVEN), to help special investigative units disrupt and dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations and their networks,” DHS said.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — which recently released a strategic plan centered around strengthening policies and processes, investing in the agency workforce recruitment and retention, and promoting effective and efficient financial management and stewardship — would receive $865 million under the proposal to help reduce its caseload backlog and process increasing asylum claims and refugees.
On the heels of the administration releasing the National Cybersecurity Strategy that vowed to build “a more defensible and resilient digital ecosystem” through “generational investments,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would receive a $145 million funding increase under the budget plan. CISA’s total $3.1 billion funding would include $98 million to implement the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act and $425 million for the new Cyber Analytics Data System, which DHS describes as “a robust and scalable analytic environment capable of providing advanced analytic capabilities to CISA’s cyber operators.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency grant programs would get an infusion of funding to help state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions enhance resilience to the effects of climate change. DHS climate resilience programs would receive $3.9 billion under the budget plan, $140 million more than in FY 2023. More than $500 million would be allocated for flood hazard mapping, “including the development of new data to support future flood conditions.” The budget request $123 million for DHS to invest in zero-emission vehicles and $264 million for DHS “to consolidate its physical footprint across the National Capital Region.”
In October, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan to better detect biothreats, prevent the spread of outbreaks and improve lab security, stop bioterror attacks, prepare for the impacts of bioincidents, and rapidly respond and recover from biological events with a focus on helping critical infrastructure and the supply chain withstand impacts. Biden’s budget includes $236 million to support the biodefense plan across preparedness and surveillance.
“The TSA workforce deserves to be fairly compensated at rates comparable with their peers in the Federal workforce,” the budget plan states, noting that the president is requesting $1.1 billion above the FY 2023 enacted level “to fully fund the TSA pay equity initiative.”
The new U.S. Coast Guard Climate Framework lays out a response readiness action plan that addresses how a changing climate is affecting the USCG mission, including security challenges posed by receding ice opening the Arctic to more traffic. Stressing that “establishing American presence in the Arctic is a critical security priority” as “the Adversaries of the United States are increasing their presence in the Arctic and may seek to disrupt established norms for their own benefit,” the budget carries over the administration’s 2023 request to buy a commercially available icebreaker to “enhance the nation’s presence in the Arctic and ensure U.S. national sovereignty is respected in the region.” Congressional aides told The Wall Street Journal in November that the purchase of a used ship was being considered at an estimated cost of $125 million to $150 million.
The White House noted that such a ship would also be important in disaster response and coastal resilience. “This capability would also ensure that the United States has greater access to support vulnerable communities in a region that is facing significant impacts from climate change,” the budget plan said.
The budget request for the Coast Guard includes $579 million for the Offshore Patrol Cutter program, $55 million to advance the Great Lakes Icebreaker acquisition, and $170 million for a third new Polar Security Cutter.
The final DHS budget priority noted in the document is supporting 2024 presidential campaign security through providing $3 billion to continue support for the Secret Service’s mission needs, including funding 77 additional positions across USSS. The budget request includes $191 million “to ensure that the 2024 Presidential Campaign is adequately resourced for the protection of major candidates, nominees, their spouses, and nominating conventions,” DHS said.
Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young is scheduled to answer questions about the full $6.8 trillion budget request at a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Budget Committee.