Press Item ● Older Americans & Seniors

President Bush's budget proposes discretionary spending authority of $19.1 billion for the Department of Agriculture, a decrease of 8.1 percent.

Although the USDA took the biggest hit of any of the major federal departments, the budget included new money for agriculture and food defense initiatives; efforts to fight mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE); and programs to prevent and fight fires on federal lands.

The budget proposes $381 million for increasing lab capability, monitoring and other programs to protect the agriculture industry and food supply from terrorist attacks. It also includes $60 million for mad cow disease programs, including $33 million for an animal identification system.

The Forest Service as a whole saw cuts in its programs, although the budget includes a $33 million increase for efforts to remove dense undergrowth to reduce the fire threat and $685 million, the 10-year-average, for fire suppression. Much of the reduction in the budget was due to funds that were provided for fiscal 2004 to repay other accounts for firefighting expenses, an official said.

A reduction in the Natural Resources Conservation Service budget resulted from limits proposed on some of its programs and the elimination of congressional earmarks in a program that provides technical services to farmers.

The budget also includes "a common-sense proposal" to exclude combat-related pay when determining food-stamp benefits for military families.

-- Judy Sarasohn

The Commerce Department's discretionary spending authority would decline 1 percent, to $5.7 billion, with many of the trims coming from spending on departmental management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The administration again proposes to scrap the Advanced Technology Program, a Clinton administration favorite that helps fund promising high-tech ventures.

The White House proposes to boost funding for NOAA's satellite programs and others used for hurricane warnings and other weather predictions. The International Trade Administration would get $11 million more for international trade activities.

-- Nell Henderson

The Defense Department budget would be $401.7 billion, a 7.1 percent increase.

Although the Pentagon plan represents virtually half of all domestic discretionary spending, it does not include the substantial cost of ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which officials say would be funded in a future supplemental appropriation.

The budget would fund a 3.5 percent increase in base pay for military personnel and an array of weapons programs and aircraft, including 42 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, 24 F-22 Raptors, 14 C-17 airlifters and 11 tilt-rotor Ospreys. The budget would also fund nine new Navy ships, and includes $68.9 billion for research and development, a 7 percent increase.

-- VernonLoeb

The administration is requesting a 3 percent increase for the Department of Education, to $57.3 billion, with much of the extra money going to the No Child Left Behind initiative for raising academic standards in the nation's public schools.

The budget would increase aid to poor school districts by $1 billion, to $13.3 billion, and add $1 billion for children with disabilities, to $11 billion. Funding for Pell grants, which help poor students go to college, would grow by about 7 percent.

The administration has proposed funds for promoting school choice, including a $50 million incentive fund that would provide awards to states, school districts and nonprofit organizations that enable parents to transfer their children to high-performing schools.

The administration plans to axe 38 programs, including $11 million for gifted and talented students and $246 million for a family literacy program called Even Start.

-- Michael Dobbs

Department of Energy spending would grow 1.2 percent, or about $300 million, but support for some basic science research would be cut along with funds for a government-industry partnership seeking to develop efficient cars and trucks.

In an offering to environmental groups opposed to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Bush proposes using $1.2 billion of the bids from oil companies to subsidize alternative energy programs over seven years. Environmentalists have stated repeatedly their position on ANWR is not negotiable.

The $73 million overall reduction in funds for basic scientific research would fall mainly on biological and environmental science research, such as studies of the human genome and climate change.

By contrast, the administration proposes tripling spending on research on cleaner ways of burning coal, from $208 million to $635 million. The president's FutureGen initiative, aimed at creating the world's first emissions-free power plant using coal, is allocated $287 million. But funding to develop more efficient vehicle technologies would be cut by $23 million.

An additional $120 million would be used to beef up security at nuclear weapons sites.

-- Dan Morgan

The Environmental Protection Agency's $7.76 billion request is 7.2 percent less than the fiscal 2004 budget, making the agency one of the hardest hit.

Two big reductions are funds for building waste treatment plants, from $1.3 billion down to $800 million, and a more than 75 percent cut -- about $435 million -- for drinking water pipes and facilities. The science and research budget was reduced by about $100 million, including tens of millions of dollars in grants to study some major -- and politically controversial -- environmental questions, including the health effects of airborne particulates, drinking water quality, global climate change and endocrine-disrupting chemical pollutants.

-- Rick Weiss

The Department of Health and Human Services' total request of $580 billion for fiscal 2005 represents a 5.8 percent increase from 2004. The discretionary portion of the budget would decrease by 1.6 percent to $68 billion.

The new prescription drug benefit for seniors and the overhaul of the Medicare bill is driving the increase in spending, as is the five-year doubling of community health centers for the uninsured.

In addition, the budget calls for a $160 million increase over the next five years for Bush's initiative to encourage marriage among low-income Americans.

Mandatory expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, the giant health insurance programs for the elderly and poor, account for more than 85 percent of the HHS budget.

The Food and Drug Agency would receive the biggest percentage increase in the budget, $109 million or 7.9 percent, partly to step up FDA efforts to enhance food safety programs and prevent the spread of mad cow disease.

Funding for the National Institutes of Health would grow by 2.7 percent, a considerably lower rate than in previous years.

-- Laura Blumenfeld

The Department of Homeland Security's budget would be $28.3 billion, a 4.6 percent increase. That sum does not include $2.5 billion proposed for Project BioShield, which is designed to protect the nation from biological attack.

One area that has been cut is grants to local police, fire and emergency medical agencies -- from $4 billion last year to $3.4 billion this year, or 15 percent. But many homeland defense officials praised another move: doubling the sum spent on protecting the cities deemed most threatened by terrorist attack, from $725 million to $1.4 billion.

The Coast Guard budget would grow 8 percent, from $5.8 billion to $6.2 billion, which experts say would barely pay for new ships and securing ports.

Numerous agencies outside Homeland Security, such as the departments of Defense and Energy, will handle domestic security functions costing $20 billion, a jump of about $2 billion from this year.

-- John Mintz

The budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development would get a boost of 2.8 percent, rising $31.3 billion.

HUD officials said they would pursue several initiatives, including reorganizing the housing voucher program, eliminating up-front costs for some first-time homebuyers and involving more religious organizations in housing assistance efforts.

The biggest change, revamping the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which helps about 2 million low-income families to lease or purchase privately owned rental housing, would require Congress's approval. The program would be changed to give local housing authorities more say in who is eligible for the funds.

Low-income housing advocates said the proposed changes to Housing Choice would reduce the number of families served by 250,000. HUD officials said the changes would help control rising costs.

-- Christopher Lee

Interior's budget would grow 2 percent to $11 billion.

New money includes $157.8 million to expand and strengthen reforms in management of funds owed to Indian tribes and individuals, $53.3 million to restructure and accelerate reclamation of abandoned coal mine properties, and, together with USDA, $80 million to enhance forest and brush clearing programs to mitigate the effects of wildfires. Interior would get an added $22 million to help clear the maintenance backlog for the National Park Service.

-- Guy Gugliotta

The Justice Department budget would dedicate millions more to counterterrorism and national security, which would grow 15 percent to $3.5 billion.

Most of that increase would go to the FBI, which would see its budget authority leap by 11 percent, to more than $5.1 billion, and which would devote more than 2,600 agents to counterterrorism.

Discretionary spending on all Justice programs would drop by 3.1 percent, to $18.7 billion, according to administration figures. But Justice officials said yesterday the department's discretionary budget authority would actually grow 2 percent.

The proposed budget would slash or eliminate many programs aimed at helping local law enforcement, including the controversial Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

The FBI would begin charging local police departments and prosecutors for the use of its national laboratory, with the aim of raising $35 million a year.

-- Dan Eggen

The administration is proposing a slight budget increase for the Labor Department, boosting discretionary spending from $11.7 billion to $11.9 billion, or 1 percent, in an overall $45.4 billion budget.

The budget includes $250 million for the community college-based job training program Bush highlighted in his State of the Union speech last month. It also calls for $50 million for a pilot project that would give as much as $3,000 to jobless workers that they could use to pay for job-finding services. The program was proposed in last year's budget but not adopted by Congress.

Meanwhile, Labor wants to cut total employment services grants to states by $90.9 million. It also wants to save $76.9 million by eliminating the migrant and farm worker job-training program. Officials said seasonal workers could seek services instead at one of the nation's 3,900 one-stop job centers.

-- Kirstin Downey

Spending for the State Department and other key international affairs programs would climb by $2.3 billion, an increase of more than 8 percent. State alone would have an increase of almost 11 percent in budget authority, more than any other Cabinet agency, with major increases set for diplomatic programs and embassy security and construction.

Overall, international assistance would increase about 12 percent. A big chunk of the new money is $2.5 billion for the proposed Millennium Challenge Corp., a new foreign aid tool that would tie aid to countries to their meeting judicial and economic criteria.

The budget also allocates $1.45 billion for the global HIV-AIDS initiative and boost spending for its Middle East democracy initiative to $150 million. Spending on child survival and disease programs, which had doubled from 2001 to 2003, would decrease 22 percent, in part because some of the money would be transferred to the global AIDS initiative and because Congress appropriated more than Bush requested for this year.

-- Glenn Kessler

The Department of Transportation's discretionary budget would decline nearly 4 percent, to $13.3 billion. DOT's total budgetary resources, however, which include highway and aviation trust funds, increased slightly to $58.7 billion in fiscal 2005, up from $58.6 billion.

House and Senate committees overseeing transportation have proposed more funds for highway and transit spending than the administration requested, but some of those plans call for increased gas taxes, which the president "would not be happy with," Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said yesterday.

The president's $900 million budget request for Amtrak, a decrease from $1.2 billion for fiscal 2004, is designed to funnel more costs of the financially strapped rail system to states and local governments.

-- Sara Kehaulani Goo

Bush is seeking $10.8 billion for the Treasury Department, the overwhelming majority of it -- $10.7 billion -- for the Internal Revenue Service. The figures are a slight reduction for Treasury overall, but an increase of $590 million for the IRS.

Included in the IRS request is $300 million to strengthen the agency's enforcement efforts and $285 million to continue modernizing its out-of-date computer system. Treasury and IRS officials said abusive tax shelters will be a major focus of increased enforcement efforts.

The budget would also add about $8 million to Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a key part of the government's effort to track down terrorist financiers and money launderers.

The administration said it "will begin work on a plan to merge some or all of" U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing operations.

-- Albert B. Crenshaw

The Bush administration proposed increasing discretionary spending for Department of Veterans Affairs health care and other programs by about 1.8 percent, to $29.7 billion.

The proposal includes increased fees for veterans with the highest incomes, including a new $250 annual enrollment fee and an increase from $7 to $15 for monthly pharmaceutical co-payments "for the treatment of a non-service-connected disability or condition." Both of those proposals have been rejected by Congress.

The majority of the department's total $67.7 billion budget -- about $35.6 billion -- would be directed toward mandatory spending for entitlement programs, such as disability and pension payments to veterans.

-- Brian Faler

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For Immediate Release: 
February 3, 2004