President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quickly drew fire from both Democrats and Republicans.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss) and the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, declared that, "The administration’s release of its FY 2017 budget request for DHS reflects the reality that indiscriminate budget cuts – called for under the rigid budget caps – undermine national security and domestic priorities. Unfortunately, under this budget, it’s first responders who pay the price.”
Thompson express that, “The cuts to homeland security grant program funding are deep and far-reaching and are sure to be rebuffed by Congress. We can’t afford to slash these grant programs, as they are crucial to helping fund our state and local governments’ homeland security efforts. I will continue to fight to fund these critical programs."
The new and old funding shows a gap.
As Contributing Writer Ken Chotiner notes in his special report on grants and funding in the upcoming Feb/March Homeland Security Today, as part of DHS’s efforts to support state, local, tribal and territorial partners, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced final allocations for a number of target FY 2015 Preparedness Grant Allocations’ totaling more than $1.6 billion, annually, over the next three years — the first major grant funding initiative that had been awarded since 2002.
“As a result of both initiatives,” Chotiner wrote, “DHS announced that they have awarded over $40 billion to their partners since the inception of these grant programs.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said “the President’s FY 2017 budget request … ignores the spending agreement made between Congress and the White House last fall.
He said, “The President’s budget request does not reflect the fact that we face the highest terror threat level since 9/11. While the budget calls for a number of necessary security enhancements, it still falls short where we need it most.”
Echoing Thompson, McCaul said, “Our city streets have become the front lines in the war against Islamist terror, yet the President proposes slashing funding to state and local first responders.”
Continuing, McCaul blasted the President’s proposed budget for DHS by pointing out that, “The threat at our borders is rising by the day, yet the President proposes cutting the number of border patrol agents. And while I am pleased to see the White House has finally included a few budget lines to address terrorists’ recruitment of Americans, the President’s overall budget still proposes spending billions more on countering climate change than on countering violent extremism here at home.”
The President’s FY 2017 budget provides $40.6 billion in net discretionary funding for DHS. An additional $6.7 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund is requested separately from discretionary amounts, pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011. Resources are aligned to the department’s five primary missions.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, praised the President’s budget as one “that would continue to make critical investments in our … national security priorities …”
“Strong cybersecurity is one of those priorities,” he commented, adding, “and the President reaffirmed his commitment to addressing this threat by making efforts to bolster our defenses a central part of his budget plan. First and foremost, we must continue to bolster our ability to protect our infrastructure, our businesses, and individuals from the adversaries we face online. The President’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan will dedicate significant resources to collaborating with the private sector on cybersecurity.”
Bu. Carper also stated America needs a “21st century networks in our federal agencies to respond to this 21st century threat. Investing in modernizing our outdated computer networks and replacing old information security systems that are vulnerable to attack, as the President proposed in his budget, is critical.
He highlighted the budget’s expansion of the EINSTEIN cyber intrusion detection program to all federal agencies. It also calls for increased funding for other important cybersecurity initiatives, including the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program at DHS.
Carper added, “We must also strengthen our defenses on another front – terrorism. While we continue to degrade and destroy ISIS abroad, it’s critical that we counter their message here at home. The President’s budget would invest in countering violent extremism here at home, including funding DHS’s Office of Community Partnerships, an arm of the department that I am seeking to bolster through legislation pending in committee.
The budget in brief
DHS’s proposed budget includes $40.6 billion in net discretionary funding for the department to carry out its five primary missions: prevent terrorism and enhance security; secure and manage our borders; enforce and administer our immigration laws; safeguard and secure cyberspace; and strengthen national preparedness and resilience.
According to DHS, “This budget submission builds on the priorities funded in the FY 2016 Budget, providing the funding to sustain our most critical programs and initiatives, while also providing funding for efforts strengthening DHS Unity of Effort and improving the DHS workforce. The budget continues to support DHS operations while making critical investments in a centralized cybersecurity program within the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and frontline border security technology and infrastructure, as well as advancing Unity of Effort initiatives to further mature the department.
DHS asserts the budget will help Prevent terrorism and enhance security by protecting the American people by leveraging the intelligence, information sharing, technological, operational and policy-making elements within our purview to facilitate a cohesive and coordinated effort to secure the United States and prevent attacks.
It will also, "Secure and manage our borders," DHS stated, adding, "Employing a layered security approach to reduce the flow of illegal migration and illicit contraband and prevent terrorists from entering the country while fostering legal trade and travel. Investments in critical Border Patrol staffing, equipment, and surveillance technology and continued recapitalization of Coast Guard assets are imperative to enhancing the capabilities of front-line officers and agents."
In addition, DHS said the budget will allow better enforcement and administration of immigration laws by "focusing on strategies that promote lawful immigration while reducing illegal pathways."
DHS said it "has committed resources to unite families entering the country legally while prioritizing the removal of those individuals who fall within the Department’s priorities for enforcement, specifically those who pose a threat to public safety, border security, or national security."
DHS further stated the new budget will help "safeguard and secure cyberspace" by "developing prevention and mitigation strategies that keep pace in a cybersecurity environment with evolving threats. The budget supports cybersecurity information sharing across the government."
The FY 2017 budget will also "strengthen national preparedness and resilience," DHS said, by improving "collaborating with state, local and tribal governments [to] ensure effective response to and recovery from a variety of emergencies and disasters."