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More Funds, Questions for DHS

Author: Eben Kaplan
February 8, 2006

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President Bush's mammoth $2.77 trillion 2007 budget, submitted to Congress on February 6, has caused quite a stir in Washington (Economist). While proposed cuts to some social programs are contentious, increased spending on defense and security seems inevitable (WashPost). The agency chiefly responsible for securing the home front, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is slated to receive $42.7 billion, a 6 percent increase in funding.

DHS, home of the oft-maligned Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has been criticized in the past for wasteful spending. But a redesigned risk-based grant program—explained in this CFR Background Q&A—seeks to change that reputation. DHS also hopes to make progress on the challenging task of securing the U.S. borders (LATimes). A 29 percent increase in spending on border security would boost the number of Border Patrol agents and create new facilities to detain illegal aliens before shipping them home. But in a world of increasingly porous borders (Foreign Policy), these new efforts may prove futile.

Port security, which CFR fellow Stephen Flynn calls a "house of cards," did not receive as much attention in the budget. U.S. ports present a tricky challenge. They are vital to the U.S. economy and need to remain accessible (WashTimes), but they are logical points of entry for weapons of mass destruction. One commodity reaching these ports that poses a potentially devastating threat to public safety is liquefied natural gas. The vulnerability of this vital energy source is explained by cfr.org's Eben Kaplan in a CFR Background Q&A.

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