The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 18, 2006

Briefing on the President's Supplemental Appropriation Request
Via Teleconference

Department Of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson
National Guard Bureau Comptroller Christopher Gardner
OMB Executive Associate Director Austin Smythe

10:00 A.M. EDT

MR. MILBURN: Today the administration is sending to Congress a revised supplemental -- emergency supplemental appropriations request for the war on terror to fund the border security initiatives that the President discussed on Monday in his speech. That has been transmitted to Congress just moments ago, and will be posted shortly on the OMB website. We'll have a fact sheet on that as well, that we are -- we're in the process of finishing up and we'll send after this call.

On the call will be Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Jackson, who will go over DHS's components; then we also have the Assistant Chief and Comptroller of the National Guard Bureau Christopher Gardner; and then we also have the Executive Associate Director for OMB, Austin Smythe. Then we'll open up for questions.

We have a pretty tight deadline, 10:30 a.m., and then we're going to have to wrap up, because we have some other meetings that folks have to get to. So with that, I'll turn it over to Secretary Jackson.

DEPUTY SECRETARY JACKSON: Thanks very much. What I will do is just try to provide a brief overview, ladies and gentlemen, and then we'll get through the overview portion, and then answer your questions. So I'll make mind relatively compact.

Overall, the budget request is $1.948 billion. The DHS portion of that is $1.172 billion. And there are two major chunks, one allocated to the Customs and Border Patrol -- border protection, and the other one to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE.

So inside the bucket related to CBP is $805 million. There's $235 million for Border Patrol agents. This is a thousand Border Patrol agents in this supplemental request. There's another large chunk of money related to tactical infrastructure for fencing, lighting roads, et cetera. And that tactical infrastructure money will be needed in part to allow us to use the Guard for engineering and construction projects that we would consider a core part of the Guard deployment.

So in addition, there are a variety of other tasks, Border Patrol facilities, air and marine aircraft replacement -- $95 million. And, Scott, I'm assuming that we have the fact sheet out to everybody, so I probably shouldn't waste their time by going through each of the individual items, is that right?

MR. MILBURN: We'll distribute the fact sheet afterwards. We're still wrapping up a few I's and T's on it.

DEPUTY SECRETARY JACKSON: We've included $50 million for training and recruitment, $75 million for our Secure Border Initiative, technology and tactical communications works, and money for Border Patrol vehicle replacement, and some administrative contract support, which will allow us to free up agents and put them into the field and relieve them from administrative duties.

So that's the CBP portion of it, in a very quick nutshell. In the ICE portion of it, we have a major driver in additional beds for detention of illegal immigrants that are arrested, we have associated with that $97 million with transportation costs and removal costs, so that we can accelerate our expedited removal work with the procedures that we have. We have some money for -- in the amount of $50 million for local law enforcement support. This is the so-called 287g program, which allows us to train local law enforcement and state law enforcement officials along the four border states, as the President's proposal. And this would allow us to give them training on immigration law, give them training on the various legal and enforcement issues associated with enforcing immigration law, give them IT connectivity -- there's different types of training for different types of training for different types of law enforcement officers.

For example, we have done 287g projects to connect to DMVs to be able to give them the capacity online to be able to connect up to a database of fugitives that they can tap into for a very quick read on how to make their operations work more effectively with our immigration laws.

So these are general overviews. We've got some training money in here. We also have $15 million to support Operation Stonegarden, which is an effort to try to strengthen our relationships at the state level through state law enforcement grants that are coming from the Department to the states. They're entitled to use up to 25 percent of their law enforcement training grants program monies for these immigration-related enforcement activities, which are very closely coordinated with CBP, and we will provide some matching funds for those states that choose to devote those law enforcement funds in this fashion.

There's also, I might just mention, some $20 million for the Department of Justice to hire additional attorneys and the legal assets needed to beef up the enforcement capabilities at the Department of Justice.

So that's my quick overview, and, Scott, I might give it back to you or to Chris to cover the DOD portion.

MR. MILBURN: Mr. Gardner, do you want to go ahead and talk about the Guard role?

MR. GARDNER: Yes, good morning. Let me begin by just saying that the National Guard is certainly suited to do this mission. We have the skills, the capabilities, the availability of personnel. And this is nothing new to us.

It's important that we keep an eye on the force structure and make sure there's no degradation of National Guard support to DOD for overseas missions. It's a small portion of the available force that we don't foresee that happening.

Governors will retain the sufficient National Guard capability to accomplish state missions, and that includes disaster preparedness as we enter the hurricane season. We're certainly better prepared today than we were last year for the hurricane season, constantly applying lessons learned, that we learned last year. We have more troops available, certainly have more equipment -- a wealth of more experience of dealing with that type of incident.

Customs and Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security are, obviously, the drivers of the requirements. And we are responding to those. As we continue to get fidelity, we'll adjust the force mix. Right now of the 6,000 it looks like it would be up to about 4,500 Army National Guardsmen and about 1,500 Air National Guardsmen. Like I said, we'll adjust that as -- (inaudible) -- total requirements. Right now we're looking at engineering type skills, surveillance, reconnaissance, certainly training -- (inaudible) -- command and control type communications. The litany -- I think you've seen the list (inaudible) -- all of those certainly are on the -- (inaudible) -- as we support DHS and the CPB.

The mix, certainly using an AT status, or annual training status, is preferred. At the same time, I suspect we will have a certain amount of volunteers within the border states, the four states, that stay on for some extended period of time under Title 32. And that mix, we're still working on, as well. But -- (inaudible) -- the Secretary of Defense, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau articulated yesterday that we are, to the extent possible, going to use annual training status.

That pretty much sums up where we are right now. And Scott, I don't know who is next, but we'd be glad to take any questions.

DEPUTY SECRETARY JACKSON: I might just add that this budget, the total of the $1.9 billion includes $756 million appropriated to the DOD account to support this National Guard operations and maintenance role.

MR. MILBURN: Okay, thanks, folks. I've got Austin Smythe from OMB to make just a few comments on the budget end of things.

MR. SMYTHE: When the President submitted his supplemental, he requested $92.2 billion for the global war on terror and Katrina for that supplemental requirement. While the Senate was considering it, its version of that supplemental, the administration expressed support for -- we're aware of that there was going to be a border security amendment adopted, and we expressed support for that, as long as it was offset at that stage. The Senate passed a supplemental bill, included $1.9 billion. The request that we're sending up today totals $1.9 billion, $756 million for the Guard.

Michael walked through the other pieces that add up to the $1.9 billion, and it is offset by making reductions in DOD spending. We went back and took a look at the Department of Defense requirements, which totaled $68 billion in the President's original supplemental request, and we looked at areas where funding was not immediately needed to fund operation and maintenance requirements necessary for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we have deferred those items and made adjustments in those items to offset this request.

MR. MILBURN: Okay, I think we're done on our end.

Q Yes, for Austin. The White House has made it very clear that they're going to veto any supplemental that exceeds the President's request. And as you know, the people up here have been scrubbing it to look for offsets for some congressional priorities. Doesn't this $1.9 billion that you've discovered in the Pentagon accounts that isn't immediately needed indicate that, in fact, the President's request had a little fat in it when he submitted it?

MR. SMYTHE: I don't think that's the case. We went back and took a look at the supplemental requirements. The Senate bill had already offered -- used an offset in an across-the-board cut in the DOD accounts. We did not think that was the way to approach it. So instead, we went through the DOD accounts. We think all these amounts are necessary. We went through and took a look in terms of what are the requirements for the operational and maintenance requirements in the war. And when you look at the actual details in terms of what we're proposing, they're largely coming out of procurement items that would not be needed immediately for these purposes -- the less urgent items.

But I think we still stand by our $68 billion request. It's more an issue in terms of what is needed at this point right now to fund the war. And we think our revised request fully meets those needs.

Q But isn't this really indicating that numbers are driving the policy, that you're sending up numbers for the sake of meeting a target?

MR. SMYTHE: I think on any budget you're always dealing with numbers. It's a trade-off of going back and forth. You can't look at any issue solely through the lens of just what are the needs, or solely through the lens of what are the numbers. We go through a balancing act when we budget. The President has given us a very clear directive that we are to provide whatever is necessary for the war. We're confident that this revised request meets those needs.

Q Good morning. Can you give us some general idea of the $1.9 billion that you've found is not immediately needed for DOD? What kind of procurements, what kind of things are we talking about there?

MR. SMYTHE: I think the fact sheet will provide more detail on those items. The kind of accounts that we're looking at are in the aircraft procurement accounts, Navy procurement accounts. There's some in the research and development area, and some in the military construction area.

Q And how long do you think you can hold off? You say it's not immediately needed. When will this stuff be needed?

MR. SMYTHE: There are a couple of other cases where funding will be addressed. The President included in his budget a $50 billion allowance for 2007, where it could be addressed. And then we've acknowledged that that -- that there will be additional resources needed beyond the $50 billion. We do not know the exact level of those additional requirements at this stage, but we would be requesting a supplemental in addition to that $50 billion at some point after the beginning of the fiscal year, probably in the spring, next spring, as we did this past year. And it could be addressed in either one of those two vehicles.

Q And delaying these procurements will in no way affect the war effort?

MR. SMYTHE: That's what we've worked towards -- not to affect the war effort.

Q Thank you.

Q Hi, good morning. A question, does any of this $1.9 billion include efforts to crack down on people who overstay their visas? Are we talking exclusively about border crossers?

DEPUTY SECRETARY JACKSON: This is Michael Jackson. We do have a $20 million item for fugitive operations, which will allow us to help on that regard. And we also have a $10 million account for exploring some alternatives to detention which is close monitoring. We've done a series of tests here to increase several programs to monitor and track people shy of having them in incarceration.

Q There's been reports -- government reports that say that the visa overstays are between a third and half of the illegal immigration. Is there a reason that we're only talking about $30 million in a $1.9 billion request given that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY JACKSON: The focus of the President's budget request and the emergency supplemental for it here is on gaining control of the border. And so the predominant focus of this emergency supplemental request is on the border and border-centric investments. Clearly, the interior enforcement is one of the key three legs of the President's comprehensive immigration reform strategy, and we're putting core budget against those issues, as well.

Q Thank you.

MR. MILBURN: Thanks, folks, for your help. Look out for the transmittal package on the OMB website, and then we'll have a fact sheet with a little more granularity later. And then, as always, don't hesitate to give us a call if we can help with anything else.

Thanks a lot.

END 10:19 A.M. EDT

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