Trump admin weighing cuts to Coast Guard, TSA to fund border wall

The cuts are among several security-related reductions in a budget draft.

ByABC News
March 8, 2017, 8:08 PM

— -- The Trump administration is considering cuts to the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Secret Service and FEMA -- including cuts to several notable national security and emergency response initiatives -- to help fund the president’s border wall and deportation efforts, according to a draft budget blueprint obtained by ABC News.

The proposal from the Office of Management and Budget, which is circulating on Capitol Hill and within the administration, outlines a $1.3 billion overall cut to the Coast Guard’s budget, equivalent to 14 percent of the agency’s funding last year. The draft would cut funding for Maritime Security Response Teams and scuttled a contract for a new cutter for the Coast Guard fleet.

TSA would lose more than $500 million in funding, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency would face an approximately $370 million cut, reducing grant funding for emergency preparedness and countering violent extremism (a program to help states and communities prepare for and prevent extremist threats).

Overall, the Department of Homeland Security would see a $2.7 billion increase in its budget from 2016, to $43.8 billion, under the proposal.

Presidential budget proposals are primarily messaging documents highlighting administration priorities. But the outline has drawn bipartisan criticism from lawmakers concerned about cuts to key national security programs.

In a letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., warned that cuts to the Coast Guard would “stand in dramatic contrast to the President’s stated goals of securing our border and reducing the flow of illegal drugs.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the cuts would “only reduce our readiness and effectiveness in preventing potential attacks and responding to disasters.”

“The White House needs to go back to drawing board with its budget and produce something to Congress that is workable, realistic, and, most importantly, keeps our country safe,” he said.

A DHS spokesman declined to comment on the draft and referred question to OMB.

“The budget blueprint will be released in mid-March. It would be premature for us to comment on – or anyone to report – the specifics of this internal discussion before its publication,” OMB communications director John Czwartacki said in a statement.

“The president and his cabinet are working collaboratively as we speak to create a budget that keeps the president’s promises to secure the country and prioritize taxpayer funds.”

News of the draft was first reported by Politico.

According to the proposal, $2.9 billion in DHS funds would go towards improving border security, with some of that money being used to build the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Nearly $300 million would go to hiring more border patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, while $1.9 billion would be used to help fund immigrant detention and deportation efforts.

The draft would eliminate TSA funding for the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Program, which funds the “VIPR” squads who prevent terror attacks in train stations, airports and other transportation hubs. It would also cut approximately $65 million in funding for behavior detection officers and federal grants for local law enforcement at airports.

The proposal would also reduce Secret Service funding for the National Computer Forensics Institute, a federally-funded cybercrime training center for local law enforcement. Overall, the agency would lose just over $50 million in funds.

ABC's Jordyn Phelps and Geneva Sands contributed to this report.

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