TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -The White House 2019 budget proposal offers the Pentagon and the president’s immigration agenda a generous boost. It also looks to modernize US infrastructure and the nuclear arsenal and seeks corporate partners to explore space.
Titled “An American Budget,” the proposal unveiled Monday lists a total of $4.338 trillion in government outlays in the fiscal year 2019. It also projects annual outlays for the next decade, ending at $7 trillion in 2028.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the proposal reflects the Trump administration’s commitment to the “safety, prosperity, and security of the American people,” and seeks to focus the government on “what matters most – protecting the Nation.”
Unveiling the proposal on Monday morning, President Donald Trump said the Pentagon was pleasantly surprised, with Defense Secretary James Mattis telling him “we got everything we wanted.”
Trump said he wants Mattis to get better deals on military equipment, such as “twice as many planes for half the price.” The Pentagon is heavily invested in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, estimated to cost $1.4 trillion over its lifetime.
The 2019 budget proposal envisions $617 billion baseline Pentagon funding, with another $60 billion for overseas contingency operations, better known as the warfighting slush fund. Additional military spending, including nuclear programs run by the Department of Energy, would bring the total request to $716 billion.
Part of the request is $24 billion to modernize the so-called “nuclear triad,” the land, sea and air-based strategic arsenal. It would also provide for 10 new navy ships, including three destroyers and two Virginia-class attack submarines.
While requesting funds for 77 new F-35s, mostly for the US Air Force, the budget also wants funding for 24 new F/A-18 Super Hornets and modernization of the existing F-16 fighter jets.
Within the $18 billion request to fund the wall along the border with Mexico is the $1.6 billion for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) enforcement efforts. Another $211 million would hire 750 additional Border Patrol agents, slowly moving towards Trump’s goal of eventually hiring 5,000.
Hiring and maintaining 2,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would cost $571 million, and “directly supports the president’s order for ICE to arrest all illegal aliens it encounters,” the document says.
Another $253 million would be spent on the CBP's National Targeting Center (NTC) and biometric programs, aimed at vetting visitors and immigrants before they arrive in the US.
Over $2.5 billion would be dedicated to fund the construction and maintenance of detention facilities for illegal immigrants across the US. Another $80 million would pay for 75 new immigration judge teams and 338 new prosecuting attorneys at ICE, so they can deal with the backlog of 650,000 cases currently pending in the immigration courts.
As the first step towards an ambitions $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, the budget requests $200 billion for direct federal funding and incentives to state and local governments that would attract private investment.
Half of the amount would go to incentive grants, while $50 billion would go to rural projects, including broadband internet construction. The rest would be spent on existing programs and “transformative projects.”
Tucked away in this section is the provision for “Real Property Reforms” that would allow the government to sell off “unneeded Federal facilities” for private use, “potentially spurring local economic development.”
A combined $13 billion in new funding over the next two years would be dedicated to battling the opioid epidemic. An estimated 64,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. About a quarter of the $30 billion in drug control funding for 2019 would go to the opioid crisis in some way, according to estimates by the Ofﬁce of National Drug Control Policy.