The White House is weighing billions of dollars in cuts to disaster relief, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the TSA in order to pay for President Donald Trump’s multi-billion dollar wall on the U.S. southern border.
According to a White House budget blueprint obtained by the Washington Post on Tuesday, the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget for 2017 would be reduced to $7.8 billion, while TSA and FEMA budgets would be reduced about 11 percent each to $4.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively. Some $2.6 billion dollars worth of those savings would be used to start construction of the border wall.
OMB director Mick Mulvaney did not deny the reported cuts on Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Mulvaney doesn't deny that the Trump administration is weighing cutting billions from FEMA, TSA and Coast Guard to pay for the border wall pic.twitter.com/Bj22osW9j9— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 8, 2017
During his campaign Trump promised Mexico would pay for the border wall.
Proposed cuts to FEMA, which provides 75 percent of funds to states for natural disaster relief, may put senators in an uncomfortable position given this year’s winter tornado outbreak. More than 28 tornadoes—stretching from Missouri to Iowa to Minnesota to Wisconsin—were confirmed this week alone.
FEMA’s disaster relief fund has become a popular target of Republicans in Congress in recent years despite the fact that their own states have benefited from the program. The Center for Public Integrity in 2011 found that eleven Republican senators with the most FEMA-declared natural disasters voted against a bill to prevent the agency’s disaster relief fund from running dry. Included were the four Republican senators from Texas and Oklahoma, the two states that relied on FEMA the the most in 2011.
The Hill reported back in January that the Trump White House is taking its cues on which federal agencies will get the axe from the Heritage Foundation’s budget blueprint. The roughly 180-page report (which lists slashing nine climate science programs, adding a more stringent vetting system for Syrian refugees, and eliminating Violence Against Women Act grants to law enforcement) reads like a sneak preview of what’s to come from the Trump White House. Heritage’s budget blueprint proposes $2 billion in cuts to FEMA’s disaster relief fund and reducing state reliance on FEMA from 75 percent to 25 percent for disaster relief.
But cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard and TSA—both agencies whose jobs will likely get harder given the Trump administration’s promise to cut down on illegal drug trafficking at the border—are not proposed in the Heritage Foundation report.
VoteVets, an anti-Trump veterans group, tweeted their opposition to the proposed cuts to the Coast Guard.