The Trump administration is requesting $51.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2020, a nearly 8 percent increase above current funding levels, with the main focus being on border security based on physical barriers and immigration enforcement.
The administration provided limited specifics for most program items and agency top lines as DHS is expected to release its detailed budget request on Tuesday, although it’s possible the release doesn’t happen until March 18.
Still, the $51.7 billion request provides $5 billion for President Trump’s central homeland security priority, more physical barriers along the southwest border with Mexico. The DHS component of the request for barriers would cover 200 miles. The president is seeking another $3.6 billion in Defense Department funds toward the wall.
Democrats, who control the House, have signaled that administration’s overall request for the federal government is dead on arrival.
“House Democrats will reject this toxic, destructive budget request which would hollow out our national strength and fail to meet the needs of the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Monday. She added that, “While demanding billions more for his wasteful, ineffective wall, President Trump will steal from students and hungry families, from rural communities and American farmers, from clean air and clean water, and from vital, job-creating investments nationwide.”
Congress provided nearly $1.4 billion for wall spending in FY ’19, $4.3 billion less than what was ultimately requested.
The border security request for FY ’20 also includes $367 million for Customs and Border Protection to spend on aircraft, vessels, sensor and surveillance technology, and other equipment. In FY ’19, Congress appropriated $113 million to CBP for additional air and marine assets, including three multi-role enforcement aircraft, which was one more than requested. The agency also received $100 million for new border security technology that will be deployed between ports of entry.
CBP in FY ’19 also received $564 million from Congress for non-intrusive imaging equipment to be deployed at inbound lanes of southwest border land ports of entry to inspect cargo and vehicles. The high level request from the Trump administration on Monday doesn’t mention NII equipment, but the detailed request from DHS on Tuesday should clarify how much the administration plans to spend on border security technology overall at the program level.
In FY ’19, Congress also provided $77 million to be used for technology to detect opioids and related staffing at international mail and express consignment facilities. A fact sheet on combatting the opioid epidemic that was released by the White House Office of Management and Budget on Monday says that $71 million is being requested in FY ’20 for NII equipment to detect illegal drugs.
The overall request for CBP in FY ’20 is $18.2 billion versus $14.9 billion appropriated in FY ‘19.
Overall, in FY ’19, Congress appropriated $48 billion for DHS, excluding amounts for overseas contingency operations.
For the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the administration is proposing $8.8 billion in FY ’20 spending, up from $7.6 billion enacted in FY ’19. The recommended funding increase for ICE is going toward more agents, staff and detention beds.
Coast Guard acquisition funding would be reduced significantly in the administration’s budget. The request is for $1.2 billion to continue modernizing the Coast Guard’s aircraft and vessels, $1 billion less than Congress provided in FY ’19. The administration hasn’t released the details of its plans for the Coast Guard, but Congress is likely to boost the amount. The Coast Guard maintains that it needs at least $2 billion annually for its modernization efforts.
The administration says it is also requested $7.8 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, although it’s unclear if all of this is new discretionary funds or includes fees and other funding sources. The request includes funding, although not specified, for 320 computed tomography scanners to be deployed at the nation’s highest risk airports, likely for checkpoint screening of carry-on bags. Congress appropriated $94 million in FY ’19 to buy CT systems for checkpoint screening.
More than $1 billion is being proposed for DHS cyber security efforts, including an increase from 473 to 684 in the number of department-led network risk assessments, and for additional tools and services such as the EINSTEIN intrusion detection and prevention and the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation programs. The assessments include state and local election systems.
The administration also says the cyber-related budget request supports the DHS Cyber Talent Management System to make it easier to hire cyber security professionals by exempting them from typical federal hiring and compensation requirements. Under this initiative, the administration says that the department will hire at least 150 new cyber security personnel by the end of 2020 and be better positioned to compete with the private sector for talent.