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Budget Winners, Losers Reflect an Emphasis on Anti-Terrorism

Pentagon and domestic security would see gains under the blueprint. Of 150 programs tagged to end, 48 are at the Education Department.

February 08, 2005|Sonni Efron | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Bush requested large increases in federal funding for defense, domestic security and foreign aid in an otherwise tight budget submitted Monday.

Reflecting his emphasis on fighting terrorism, stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan and spreading democracy abroad, Bush asked Congress for 4.8% more for the Defense Department, nearly 7% more for the Department of Homeland Security, 17% more for the Justice Department's counterterrorism and domestic defense programs, and nearly 16% more for State Department spending on foreign operations.

Those increases would come at the expense of funding for social services, education and the environment. Bush has proposed 150 programs for elimination, 48 of them in the Education Department. The cuts include millions of dollars that have paid for technology in schools, scholarships for disadvantaged students and programs to address alcohol abuse.

Administration officials refused to identify all 150 programs, but many were named by the officials who oversaw them or by critics gearing up to fight the cuts.

The Pentagon again would receive the lion's share of the federal budget. The president's $419.3-billion request for the Defense Department in fiscal 2006 is 41% higher than in the fiscal 2001 budget, before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Pentagon is likely to get an additional $80 billion in emergency funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts -- along with tsunami aid -- through a supplemental request.

Still, Pentagon officials are under pressure to control spending in the new fiscal year. The administration proposed a $1-billion cut in the $9.9-billion missile defense program and scaled back the Navy's purchase of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters for a savings of $2.9 billion.

The budget does not increase the number of full-time American troops, despite calls on Capitol Hill to do so. But it would give 3.1% pay hikes to troops, who have seen their salaries rise 25% since 2001. The Pentagon also wants to raise insurance and death benefits for troops killed in combat, from about $262,000 to $500,000.

Though Bush has stressed the need to keep nuclear, chemical and biological weapons materiel from falling into terrorists' hands, his budget calls for an increase of less than 2% -- to $416 million -- for the Comprehensive Threat Reduction program, which seeks to dismantle or secure such stockpiles.

It does include nearly $20 billion for spending on nuclear programs at the Energy Department, some of which will be controversial.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said the Bush request would restore funding for the nuclear "bunker buster" and other new weapons programs that were canceled by Congress last year.

The proposed Department of Homeland Security budget, at $34.2 billion, reveals some of the threats officials see as most worrisome.

Included is $125 million in new funding to develop and deploy technology for detecting nuclear material at U.S. checkpoints. One goal is to thwart Al Qaeda or other terrorists who might attempt to spread radiation by detonating a "dirty bomb." The agency would establish a Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to oversee the effort.

An additional $49 million is earmarked to study how to defend against shoulder-fired-missile attacks on civilian aircraft. Department officials said that the money was for research and that they had not reached any decision on whether to require airlines to use such defenses. Terrorists in Mombasa, Kenya, fired a shoulder-launched missile at an Israeli airliner in 2002 but missed.

The Homeland Security budget includes $37 million to hire 210 more Border Patrol agents, a far smaller increase than many in Congress had sought. It also sets aside an additional $176 million "for the detention and removal of illegal aliens."

The State Department, headed by Condoleezza Rice, will see its foreign operations budget jump nearly 16% in 2005, compared with an increase of half a percentage point last year.

Most of the new funds are for two Bush signature programs: HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and the Millennium Challenge Account, which targets U.S. development aid to foreign governments that are deemed to be free of corruption and that spend the money wisely.

Funding for the Global HIV/AIDS Initiative would rise by nearly $600 million, to $1.97 billion. The Millennium Challenge Account would get $3 billion. Bush had promised that Millennium Challenge funding would reach $5 billion by 2006, but State Department officials noted that Congress had given the president only $1.5 billion of the $2.5 billion he requested last year. They said it would take another year before the program could be ramped up to disburse $5 billion annually.

Both programs have enjoyed broad bipartisan support. But Democratic critics said the budget increases were coming at the expense of a children's health program that was being reduced by $100 million and through steep cuts in other development assistance to impoverished countries.

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