- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2008


The $588.3 billion in Pentagon spending for 2009 that President Bush proposed to Congress yesterday includes only part of the cost of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush asked for $70 billion as an “emergency allowance” for war costs for the first part of the budget year, which begins Oct. 1, and the White House said, without citing a specific figure, that it would request more for 2009 “once the specific needs of our troops are better known.”

If the current rate of war spending is a guide, the additional request for 2009 is likely to exceed $100 billion.

Mr. Bush is awaiting recommendations from his top commanders and from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in April on how much to reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq this year.

The $588.3 billion total requested falls into three main categories: $515.4 billion in Defense Department spending, $70 billion in initial war costs and $2.9 billion in certain fixed Pentagon costs.

The comparable figure for the current budget year is $670.5 billion, combining $479.5 billion in Defense Department spending, $189.1 billion in projected war costs and $1.9 billion in fixed costs. Of the $189.1 billion requested for war costs this year, the Pentagon has received $86.7 billion.

Of the $515.4 billion in the proposed Defense Department budget, $20.5 billion would be for increasing the size of the Army by 7,000 soldiers, to 532,400, and adding 5,000 Marines to expand the Corps to 194,000.

Also included is $49.1 billion to recruit, train, equip and sustain the National Guard and Reserve, and $17.3 billion to modernize the aircraft fleets of the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Army.

Mr. Bush also asked for $10.4 billion to continue the Pentagon’s effort to develop and deploy defenses against long-range missiles.

The budget proposal earmarks $750 million to help other countries improve their ability to fight terrorists — “recognizing that threats to U.S. security exist beyond the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to a Pentagon statement obtained by the Associated Press. The statement did not mention specific countries that would receive such aid.

The president’s budget also proposes to spend $389 million to establish a command focusing on U.S. interests in Africa. The command has headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, and is headed by Army Gen. William Ward.

Spending on special operations forces, such as the Army’s Green Berets and the Navy’s SEALs, would total $5.7 billion.

Members of the military would get a 3.4 percent pay raise, and the defense civilian work force would see its pay grow by 2.9 percent.

Associated Press

THE DISTRICT $789 million for courts, education and city projects

Mr. Bush’s proposed $3.1 trillion federal budget released yesterday includes funding for D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s efforts to reform public schools in the city.

“I appreciate that the Bush administration has given this attention to my top policy priority in this year’s funding package,” said Mr. Fenty, a Democrat. “I am confident that it will significantly bolster our work to improve public education in the District of Columbia.”

Mr. Bush’s proposed budget provides $789 million to fund courts, city-related reforms and projects, including a one-time special appropriation of $20 million “to jump start the District’s efforts to reform its failing public school system.”

Of that amount, $3.5 million will go toward recruiting and training principals and other school leaders, while $7.5 million will pay for a customized system to help track student performance and for increased community outreach.

Another $7 million will be used in part to “intervene in low-performing schools,” while $2 million will support aspects of a salary incentive program for public school teachers.

The new funding follows Mr. Fenty’s mayoral takeover of D.C. public schools last year and his selection of schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to help fix the system.

Mr. Bush’s budget proposal also calls for $18 million to improve public school education and another $18 million to expand quality charter schools in the District. Both areas received $13 million in last year’s budget.

Another $18 million — compared with $14.8 million last year — would support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Federal allocations for emergency planning and security in the District increased from $3 million last year to $15 million, although last year’s budget proposal noted that unspent funds left a total of $13 million available.

The money will help the District pay for costs associated with next year’s presidential inauguration.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, said she was pleased with the budget’s $35 million in funding for the city’s Tuition Assistance Grant program and $14 million to reduce sewer overflow in the Anacostia River.

“I’m breathing a sigh of relief, because this budget had a lot of bad news nationally,” said Mrs. Norton, a Democrat. “But for the District, our top priorities were funded.”

The budget also calls for a payment of $7 million — down from $9 million last year, according to the proposal — to renovate the District’s public library system, and $5 million for construction of the city’s forensics laboratory.

The Fenty administration has said work is expected to begin on the laboratory early next year.

Gary Emerling


Mr. Bush’s proposed budget boosts overall spending 10.7 percent governmentwide and 7.6 percent within the department, compared with last year.

Customs and Border Protection is funded at nearly $9.5 billion — with nearly $500 million going toward the hiring of 2,200 more Border Patrol agents to accomplish Mr. Bush’s goal of more than doubling the department’s size from 9,000 to 20,000 agents since the September 11 attacks.

Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded at $151 million and Immigration and Customs Enforcement at $5.3 billion.

The Transportation Security Administration, which includes the Federal Air Marshal Service and airport screeners, is funded at $6.42 billion. Included in the budget is a surcharge for passengers to pay for a new baggage-screening system. Depending on the number of stopovers, passengers could be charged 50 cents to $1 per one-way trip.

The Office of the Inspector General will see a cut, from $109 million to $101 million. The only other Homeland Security agency to see a funding cut is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has a proposed $5.7 billion budget, down from $6.8 billion.

The U.S. Coast Guard is funded at $7.8 billion and the Secret Service at $1.4 billion.

Audrey Hudson

STATE DEPARTMENT $38.3 billion

The Bush administration’s 2009 budget gives the State Department $38.3 billion — a 16.5 percent annual increase — for foreign-affairs operations, of which Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are the biggest foreign beneficiaries.

The budget increase was proposed two months after Mr. Gates called for better funding of U.S. diplomatic efforts, in an unusual speech for a Pentagon chief that pleased the Foreign Service and advocates of “soft power.”

The additional resources will allow the State Department to hire more than 1,000 additional Foreign Service officers, said Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management.

That will permit 300 additional officers to be in language training at any given time, he said after the president’s budget was released yesterday.

The department also will step up its cooperation with the military, Mr. Kennedy said.

About 150 more diplomats will be given yearlong training at military schools, and the number of resident diplomatic advisers in the offices of the nation’s top military commanders at home and overseas will be increased by 50.

The weak dollar is “hitting hard” the U.S. overseas operations, Mr. Kennedy said, noting that the budget assumes currency exchange rates will remain near current levels.

According to the figures released yesterday, Afghanistan will receive $1.1 billion in aid, Pakistan $830 million and Iraq $400 million. More funds will be allocated for Iraq in a supplemental budget, officials said.

Almost $700 million will be spent on U.S. government television, radio and Internet broadcasts overseas, with a focus on the Middle East, North Korea, Burma, Iran and Cuba.

In addition, $1.5 billion will be contributed to U.N. peacekeeping, including operations in Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Lebanon and Haiti.

About $6 billion will go to Mr. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that is expected to spend $30 billion over the next five years to help millions of people affected by the AIDS crisis.

“We are elevating the importance of development as a policy priority to complement diplomacy and defense, and we are renewing focus on poverty reduction,” said Henrietta Fore, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Mr. Gates surprised both the Pentagon and the State Department with his November speech, in which he said that modern wars cannot be won with military assets alone.

“What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security — diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development,” he said.

“Funding for non-military foreign-affairs programs has increased since 2001, but it remains disproportionately small relative to what we spend on the military and to the importance of such capabilities,” he said.

Nicholas Kralev


Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey yesterday announced a Justice Department fiscal 2009 budget of $22.7 billion, which includes a 6 percent increase for law-enforcement and prosecution programs.

Since the September 11 attacks, the department has significantly strengthened its efforts to enhance national security and protect the homeland.

Key priorities in the proposed budget include $492.7 million to protect the United States against terrorist attacks, $100 million to combat crime on the southwest border and $67.1 million for federal detention and incarceration programs.

The budget proposes $7.1 billion for the FBI, including $447.4 million to improve intelligence, counterterrorism programs and surveillance capabilities, bolster weapons of mass destruction response and protect the security of the nation’s cyberspace systems.

Mr. Mukasey said the budget also proposes:

• $43.9 million for law-enforcement wireless communications.

• $7 million for two new teams to assist the Drug Enforcement Administration in Central and South America and in the Caribbean.

• $8.9 million to for a new Bell 412 twin-engine helicopter to support drug-interdiction operations.

• $5.1 million to support the prosecution of drug trafficking and money-laundering organizations that import, manufacture or distribute drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.

• $200 million to help communities with high rates of violent crime by forming and developing multijurisdictional law-enforcement partnerships among local, state, tribal and federal agencies.

Jerry Seper


Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt yesterday said the fiscal 2009 budget for his agency is $737 billion, an increase of $29 billion over 2008.

The increase is partly because of higher mandatory spending on health care, particularly Medicare, the health care program for seniors. The fiscal 2009 budget proposes saving $183 billion in the next few years by slowing the growth of Medicare. For fiscal 2009, Medicare is projected to increase by $29 billion, to $426 billion.

The proposed budget for Medicaid, the health care program for low-income families, seniors and disabled persons, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is $224 billion. The White House seeks reauthorization of the SCHIP through 2013, increasing funding over time by $20 billion and targeting SCHIP funds to those most in need. In addition, $450 million is proposed for outreach grants to enroll uninsured poor children in Medicaid or SCHIP.

The HHS budget also includes $4.4 billion to protect the nation against a bioterrorism attack or other public health emergency.

Other budget highlights include:

• $29.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health.

• $13.2 billion for the Administration for Children and Families, which has oversight over welfare, foster care and child support programs.

• $5.7 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

• $5.6 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• $3.3 billion for the Indian Health Service.

• $3 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

• $2.4 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, including $662 million to protect the food supply.

Cheryl Wetzstein


Mr. Bush proposed $59.2 billion for the Department of Education, the same amount as the last fiscal year.

His proposal would save about $3.3 billion by eliminating 47 education programs, including arts, physical education and civic education initiatives. Administration officials said many of the programs are duplicative or ineffective.

Title 1, the department’s main funding program to help poor students, would receive a $406 million increase to $14.3 billion. Special education would increase about $330 million, to $11.3 billion, and the Pell Grant program — a need-based college scholarship program — would receive a $2.7 billion increase. The Pell Grant boost is part of a long-term plan, approved by Congress last year, to increase Pell Grant funding by $11.4 billion over five years.

Mr. Bush also wants to create new school choice initiatives, including $300 million for a program called “Pell Grants for Kids,” providing scholarships to allow children in chronically underperforming schools to attend the school of their choice.

The budget proposal also asks Congress to reverse an earlier action and provide $1 billion for the Reading First program. The program had management problems and Congress slashed its funding last year, but administration officials said they have worked hard to correct the problems.

“This is a program that is working to help kids,” Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said yesterday.

Amy Fagan


Federal spending for the nation’s highways and airways will drop from $70.3 billion in fiscal 2008 to $68.2 billion in fiscal 2009.

Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said the 2009 spending plan more than doubles the Federal Aviation Administration’s investment in so-called “NextGen” technology, which she said will pay for the transformation from radar-based to satellite-based air traffic systems.

Mrs. Peters also called for using $175 million of inactive congressional transportation earmarks for higher-priority projects.

“Instead of having our transportation dollars whittled away with hundreds of congressional earmarks, we need to direct funding to projects that have the most impact on highway performance and relief,” she said.

The transportation budget also included $475 million for Amtrak, $851 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and $41.5 million for the Federal Highway Administration.

Jim McElhatton

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