The White House budget office wants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to pare $44 million from its FY ’19 budget proposal for various homeland security grants and other programs on top of $524 million in cuts contained in the Trump administration’s FY ’18 budget proposal, according to a new report from the Democratic staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The proposed cuts are contained in the Office of Management and Budget’s passback to DHS as part of the FY ’19 budget process. The passback document, titled Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and Policy Guidance, was provided to the committee by a whistleblower in late November and formed the basis of the Democratic staff report.
“I’m worried that the Office of Management and Budget is overriding what local, state, and national leaders have told me they most need to keep us safe,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the ranking member on the panel, said in a statement accompanying release of the staff report.
For FY ’19, the programs and offices that would be affected by the OMB proposal include an $11.7 million cut to the Transportation Security Administration’s mobile security teams, called the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR), $11.5 million cuts to both the Port Security Grant and Emergency Management Performance Grants programs, and a $9.3 million reduction to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.
The proposed cuts to the VIPR teams would eliminate them, the report says, noting that the teams are used to help protect mass transit hubs, airport terminals, and assist with security at high profile events. The administration’s budget proposal in FY ’18 calls for chopping the number of VIPR teams from 31 to eight.
Congress hasn’t finalized FY ’18 appropriations.
The proposed cuts to DNDO are related to the Securing the Cities program, which helps major urban areas acquire radiological and nuclear detection technology, develop operating concepts for preventing the use of radiological and nuclear weapons, and for training.