Republicans Cut Homeland Security Priorities
The Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by the Senate on January 23, 2003
dramatically reduces funds available for homeland security priorities. In addition to cutting
homeland security funding approved unanimously last year by a Democratic-led Appropriations
Committee, the Republican-led Senate has imposed an additional 2.9% percent
across-the-board reduction. The results of these cumulative cuts include:
- First Responders. The bill cuts $1.3 billion from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA), including $40 million for the fire grant program and other critical first
responder programs. This funding is urgently needed for interoperable communications
equipment for firefighters, state and local emergency operations centers, and other
hometown security priorities.
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The bill cuts $389 million from the FBI,
including $46 million for surveillance aircraft and other aspects of its aviation program
used to respond to critical incidents, including terrorist attacks. The FBI will also lose
agents, including 1,175 merely as a result of the across-the-board reduction.
- Immigration and border security. The bill cuts $613 million from the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS), resulting in cuts to the Entry-Exist system, which tracks the
arrival and departure of non-U.S. citizens, and the construction of border security
- Nuclear security. The bill cuts $240 million from the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) and from nuclear nonproliferation programs, including $18 million
for safeguards, security, and safe transportation of nuclear materials and nuclear
weapons in the United States, and $30 million for programs designed to keep nuclear
material out of the hands of terrorists.
- Aviation and port security. The bill cuts $280 million from Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) and Coast Guard operations, impeding efforts to improve airport
security and reducing the number of port security patrols. The bill also cuts $117 million
from the U.S. Customs Service, resulting in the loss of 1,200 employees and
compromising the implementation of the Container Security Initiative and other
homeland security efforts.