WASHINGTON – Homeland security was a big winner in President Bush's budget plan, with billions of dollars more set aside for law enforcement, vaccines, aviation security and other terror prevention and response programs.
Overall spending would be $47.4 billion, a 14 percent increase from the current $41.4 billion. That includes an 11 percent increase in FBI funding for counterterrorism (search), a 9 percent increase for the Coast Guard (search), more money to protect the food supply and a huge increase to deal with biological threats.
"Increases in the budget will allow us to expand and improve existing projects and programs as well as build new barriers to terrorists who wish us harm," Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge said.
Project BioShield (search) would get $2.5 billion, up from $885 million last year. A top priority is developing new vaccines for smallpox and anthrax.
"While we have seen the havoc possible when aircraft are used as weapons, we have yet to experience the full impact of a bio-terror attack," Ridge said. "We must be prepared."
First responders -- firefighters, police and other local authorities would get $3.6 billion in grants, a 3 percent increase over last year.
The Transportation Security Administration (search) would get a 20 percent increase in its budget, to $5.3 billion. About $890 million would go to enhance aviation security by improving passenger and baggage screening.
Ridge said "considerable" funds will be available to continue research and deployment of air cargo screening technology and speed development of anti-missile technology for commercial aircraft. Some in Congress have criticized the administration for not moving faster to look for ways to counter the threat posed by shoulder-fired missiles.
The FBI would get an increase of $60 million for counterterrorism investigations, $55 million to combat cybercrime and $52 million for counterintelligence and counterespionage programs.
The Coast Guard would get $490 million in additional funding to upgrade port security and other needs.
There's $186 million more devoted to enforcing immigration laws, including $23 million to hire 200 investigators to enforce laws prohibiting the hiring of undocumented immigrants. That would double those now in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (search).
Bush has proposed allowing immigrants already working illegally in the country to get short-term legal status while participating in a worker program. The program also would be open to people from overseas.
The Homeland Security Department was formed last year by merging all or part of 22 federal agencies, the largest government reorganization in 50 years. However, funding for homeland security is spread across the federal government, from the Agriculture Department to NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs.