President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request would cut more than half a billion dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and send the U.S. Secret Service back to the Treasury Department.
The overall $4.8 trillion proposal includes drastic cuts at some federal agencies, including slashing the Commerce Department budget by more than 37 percent and the Environmental Protection Agency by more than 26 percent. Only five departments and major agencies would be spared cuts: the Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, NASA, the Treasury Department and Homeland Security. The $49.7 billion DHS request excludes $2.4 billion for the U.S. Secret Service, which is included under Treasury (Congress would have to approve the move).
Border and immigration spending are outlined as administration funding priorities, while other components from the Transportation Security Administration to the Coast Guard would see cuts.
The president’s budget request eliminates funding for TSA exit lane staffing, TSA law enforcement grants, and TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Teams, which were created after the 2004 Madrid train bombings to provide more security in various surface transportation settings. The cuts account for $189 million.
FEMA would lose $535 million in funding for state and local grants and training, with the administration arguing that monies “supplant state and local government responsibilities, and provide funding to maintain investments that are not federal responsibilities.” Specifically, the budget proposal requests that funding be killed for FEMA’s Continuing Training Grants, National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC), Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS), Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grants, Rehabilitation of High-Hazard Potential Dams (“non-federal dam rehabilitation and repair is a clear state and local responsibility,” says the administration), and Emergency Food and Shelter Program — again, the White House argues that “emergency food and shelter is primarily a state and local responsibility.”
The administration wants to reduce funding for Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG), the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), Port Security Grant Program, and Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP).
The Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program would also lose $163 million, more than half of its budget, as the administration argues “flood hazard mapping is not solely a federal responsibility.”
To raise revenue, the administration proposes increasing customs and immigration fees, establishing an “immigration services surcharge,” extending expiring Customs and Border Protection user fees, and increasing worksite enforcement penalties.
The budget requests $2.3 billion in “high priority investments in border security technology, infrastructure, and equipment” with $2 billion of that going to new border fencing. CBP’s budget would go from $14.8 billion to $15.6 billion and ICE’s budget would go from $8.1 billion to $9.9 billion. The proposal wants to hire an additional 750 Border Patrol agents and 300 additional Border Patrol processing coordinators, increase interior enforcement staff, and devote $3 billion in funding for 60,000 average daily ICE detention beds.
At the Coast Guard, pay and benefits would increase while funding for operations and maintenance would decrease. “The Coast Guard will continue the recapitalization of boats, major cutters and patrol boats, aircraft, and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems,” the budget proposal states. “Furthermore, the Coast Guard will continue fleet sustainment projects to enhance and extend the service life of selected existing aircraft and cutters.”
“At a time where the threat of domestic terrorist attacks is heightened and our election systems are still being targeted by Russia, the significant cuts to funding for counterterrorism and disaster preparedness grants and vital cyber and infrastructure protection programs — including a program to protect chemical facilities from terrorism — are dangerous,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). “I am particularly troubled that this budget would significantly scale back assistance to first responders who, nearly 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, still look to DHS to be a full partner.”
The administration said the budget request would “allow the department to adapt to new and evolving threats and challenges in order to protect the American people, the homeland, and U.S. economy.”
“In addition to aggressively pursuing the resources necessary to support border security and immigration control, the Administration is calling upon the Congress to enact immigration reforms, including ending chain migration, ending the visa lottery program, and moving from low-skilled migration to a merit-based immigration system,” the White House added. “These needed reforms would increase wages of U.S. workers, shrink the deficit, and raise living standards for both U.S.-born and immigrant workers.”