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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 facilities.

  • 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.



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