Bush unveils $42.7 billion homeland security budget
President Bush asked Congress Monday for $42.7 billion to fund the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal 2007, up 6 percent from the $41.1 billion requested last year. Congress appropriated $40.6 billion for the current cycle.
Funding for actual homeland security activities would be $35.6 billion, up $2.3 billion, or 7 percent. The difference is related to earmarks for a program to develop vaccines to protect against attack by biological or chemical weapons.
The budget focuses significant attention and most of the spending increases on immigration enforcement and emergency preparedness, two areas that have come under criticism following the response to Hurricane Katrina, and concern along the southwest border about the lack of border controls. The Border Patrol, for example, would see an extra $3 billion, a 29 percent increase, over 2006 to include funding for 1,500 new agents.
Overall, DHS seeks $6.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, including the Border Patrol.
Funding would stay flat, compared with the administration’s previous request, for key border security programs such as the Container Security Initiative, which stations inspectors at foreign ports to pre-screen cargo, and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, a program to incentivize private sector supply chain security. The president proposed $139 million for CSI compared to $138.8 million in the last budget, and $55 million for C-TPAT up from $54.3 million in 2006. Last year Bush proposed increases for those programs of more than $5 million and $8 million, respectively.
The administration is requesting $536 million, a 70 percent increase, for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), which is responsible for developing strategies to prevent terrorists from smuggling a nuclear device into the country.
Acquisition of drive-through radiation portal monitors for border crossings would be funded at $157 million. Last year’s budget called for $125 million to purchase the detection technology. A DHS fact sheet indicated that CBP and the DNDO would share responsibility for how to deploy the machines.
DHS proposed spending $30.3 million to develop an advanced automated cargo imaging system to identify concealed nuclear materials in containers and truck trailers. The technology will rely on sophisticated software to eliminate the need for the operator to interpret the radiographic image and reduce overall inspection time from five minutes to about 30 seconds.
Another new initiative is the Chemical Security Office. DHS wants to spend $10 million to set up the office to work with the chemical industry on implementing new or enacted regulations, as well as conduct vulnerability assessments of chemical facilities.
The DHS budget calls for $4.7 billion for aviation security programs. Combined with money from 2006, DHS will apply more than $100 million for air cargo security over two years, according to budget documents.
The Coast Guard received a 6 percent increase to $7.1 billion, including $935 million for the Integrated Deepwater System fleet modernization program.