Bush Budget Scraps 9,790 Border Patrol Agents 2/9/2005
- Bush Budget Scraps 9,790 Border Patrol Agents
By Michael Hedges
The Houston Chronicle
Wednesday 09 February 2005
President uses law's escape clause to drop funding for new homeland security force.
Washington -- The law signed by President Bush less than two months ago to add thousands of border patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has crashed into the reality of Bush's austere federal budget proposal, officials said Tuesday.
Officially approved by Bush on Dec. 17 after extensive bickering in Congress, the National Intelligence Reform Act included the requirement to add 10,000 border patrol agents in the five years beginning with 2006. Roughly 80 percent of the agents were to patrol the southern U.S. border from Texas to California, along which thousands of people cross into the United States illegally every year.
But Bush's proposed 2006 budget, revealed Monday, funds only 210 new border agents.
The shrunken increase reflects the lack of money for an army of border guards and the capacity to train them, officials said.
Retired Adm. James Loy, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security until nominee Michael Chertoff takes over, said funding only 210 new agents was a "recognition that we need to balance those things as we go on down the road with other priorities."
The White House referred questions about the border agents to the Homeland Security Department.
The law signed by Bush had a caveat that went virtually unreported at the time. A summary, published by the Senate Government Affairs Committee, required the government to increase the number of border patrol agents by at least 2,000 per year, "subject to available appropriations."
Democrats were unhappy that the proposed budget used the escape clause so soon after the president approved the huge boost in border agents.
"We know we must do more to shore up security along our borders," said Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, top Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. "The president's budget does not even attempt to meet this challenge."
Some Republicans also were displeased.
"This is an area of homeland security that needs to be ramped up in order to increase surveillance and patrols of our nation's vast and often remote borders," said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
A Jan. 24 letter signed by leading Republican lawmakers implored the president to fully fund the new law "in order to secure our borders against infiltration by terrorists."
The lead signer was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a leader of GOP efforts to toughen immigration laws and anti-terrorism statutes.
U.S. Plans $400m Reward for Allies
Thursday 10 February 2005
US President George W Bush is asking Congress for $400m (�215m) to reward a number of countries that sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.
A White House spokesman said the money would "assist nations which have taken political and economic risks".
The fund is part of a $80bn war funding request President Bush will send to Congress next week.
It is thought the money could prove an incentive for countries to stay in Iraq. Several nations have withdrawn.
Poland, for instance, which has 2,500 troops in Iraq, will receive $100m.
Mr Bush announced the Polish donation during a meeting with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
"Poland has been a fantastic ally because the president and the people of Poland love freedom," Mr Bush said.
"I know the people of your country must have been thrilled when the millions of people went to the polls" in Iraq, he added.
The fund, called the Solidarity Initiative, will benefit countries "promoting freedom around the world", Mr McClellan said in a statement.
"These funds... reflect the principle that an investment in a partner in freedom today will help ensure that America will stand united with stronger partners in the future," he added.
Officials declined to say which other nations would benefit, but there has been suggestion that the fund will help to Eastern European nations, such as Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and the Baltic states.
It could also be used as an incentive not to leave the coalition in Iraq. Spain, Singapore, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, Norway and Honduras have all pulled out. Democratic Sen Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the plan was indicative of the administration's inability to attract more well-to-do nations to the coalition at the start of the conflict.
"It's kind of a shame," he told the Associated Press news agency.
"The reason we're having to do this is that we never reached out to those who have the ability and capacity to do this to begin with," he said.
-------The government should reflect, not determine, the desires of the people.The news is to be reported not to sway opinion. Stop the melodrama and constant trivia on news time. The founding fathers knew that government is always corrupt, that is why they gave us civil liberties. The people must lead to survive corrupt governments. Read the constitution. (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this includes information for research and educational purposes.) Al Soto (c) 2005
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