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  • Sequestration Cuts the DHS Off at the Knees

    Photo credit: Zhang Yan/ZUMA Press/Newscom

    Last week, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee released a report outlining what they believe the consequences of sequestration will be if it goes into effect. Following its release, Homeland Security Today published an article highlighting the report’s findings on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specifically.

    In short, the DHS will be hit hard if the sequestration is allowed to proceed as planned. Some of the areas highlighted are:

    • The TSA would have to furlough front-line screening personnel at airports, likely causing significant delays at major airports throughout the U.S.
    • The Coast Guard would have to reduce air and surface operations by 25 percent, put off maintenance of its aging fleet, and delay moving into its new headquarters.
    • Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) would need to downsize its workforces of both CBP officers and Border Patrol Agents.
    • The Department’s Science and Technology Directorate would be forced to cut major projects entirely, including research on protecting the U.S. electrical grid, and drastically slash others.
    • Funding to the National Cybersecurity Protection System would be significantly reduced.

    These cuts could not come at a worse time for the DHS. The threats to the United States are very real and for the DHS to fully face these threats, the agency needs to become more cohesive and less fragmented. While efficiency can certainly be had, simply hacking off a large chunk of DHS funding will not do anything but leave the United States vulnerable. In Secretary Janet Napolitano’s response to the report by the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, she stated:

    Even in this current fiscal climate, we do not have the luxury of making significant reductions to our capabilities without placing our nation at risk.… DHS simply cannot absorb the additional reduction posed by sequestration without significantly negatively affecting frontline operations and our nation’s previous investments in homeland security.

    Beyond the DHS, the Department of Defense (DOD) will be on the receiving end of 42.6 percent of the sequestration cuts, making it the recipient of the largest budget cuts. This will also damage the nation’s ability to defend itself now and in the future. In a world that is becoming increasingly dangerous, making America more vulnerable should be the last thing policymakers want to do.

    Regrettably, the Obama Administration, which proposed the sequestration in the first place and has offered no meaningful solutions, as well as many in Congress, have placed their priorities elsewhere. Welfare and entitlement spending is valued higher than defense spending. Bailouts and stimulus spending are more important than national security. This should not be the case.

    Instead, Congress should find a way to fix sequestration without increasing taxes. America is surrounded by a myriad of threats, and the protection that the DHS and the DOD provide is crucial. If security is not properly funded, then it cannot properly protect and defend America and its citizens.

    Sarah Friesen is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

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