Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Boston bombing rocks Homeland Security budget

Boston bombing rocks Homeland Security budget, WASHINGTON – With another deadly bombing in a U.S. city, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is coming under fire for “decimating” border control while “adding layers of bureaucracy.”

The New York Post reported Monday night that authorities had identified a Saudi national as a suspect in the explosions that killed two and injured nearly 100 at the Boston Marathon.

Though White House officials said Monday's blasts were being approached as “an act of terror," Republicans say DHS' budget priorities weaken the nation's internal defenses and open the way to more attacks.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Carter, R-Texas, accused the agency of exploiting sequestration spending cuts to project a “sky-is-falling” budget strategy while releasing criminals illegally in the country.

Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., skewered DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano at a hearing last week, saying, “Particularly where our nation’s security is involved, we need a legitimate budget that ties funding to results and mission requirements."

Napolitano said the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division and the 21 other agencies under her control confronted a “perfect storm” of budget cuts, on top of what she called $4 billion in cost avoidances and reductions over the last four years.

Rogers was unimpressed.

“Unfortunately, what I see here is a largely political document which mirrors the fear-mongering tactics employed by DHS and others leading up to implementation of sequestration, especially ICE’s release of several hundred detainees prior to these budget cuts,” he said.

Carter said Napolitano’s budget priorities “defy logic.”

“More money for headquarters consolidation and research, but deep, shameful proposals to cut operations,” he declared.

Among the proposed cuts: 826 fewer Coast Guard personnel and 1,000 fewer ICE agents; and a reduction of 2,200 ICE detention beds.

Napolitano said her agency was committed to “robust border security efforts” while “expediting travel and trade.”

But the secretary said she could not assure the committee that the Customs and Border Protection agency would be unscathed by sequestration budget cuts, which are estimated to total $2.8 billion of DHS’ $45 billion budget for fiscal 2014.

“Money needs to be moved around,” she said.

Rogers remained unmoved.

“Once again, the department has failed to submit a number of plans and reports required by law,” he said.

Jack Martin, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Napolitano will have more explaining to do in light of her recent statement that adoption of border-control “metrics” would be unhelpful to the immigration-reform efforts on Capitol Hill.

“Reaction in Congress was very negative and the Gang of 8 (lead negotiators) have gone ahead and developed a ‘trigger’ related to border security that is a target to achieve before the illegal aliens in limbo with only protection against deportation gain green cards,” Martin told Watchdog.

“Now it seems the administration has been scrambling to come up with their own metrics of border security rather than accept the Gang of 8 metrics.”

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