Flood Insurance Fee to Pay for Border Wall
Flood insurance policyholders could be hit with a surcharge to help pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico, according to draft documents prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It’s part of a plan to gut the Coast Guard and make deep cuts in airport and rail security to pay for the wall.
Several reports detail a series of planned cuts to disaster preparedness by FEMA, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). OMB is also weighing significant cuts to the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other agencies focused on national security threats.
Under the draft budget plan, which has not been finalized or released, the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget in 2017 would be cut 14 percent to about $7.8 billion, while the TSA and FEMA budgets would be reduced about 11 percent each to $4.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively. Any Trump Administration budget plan would have to be approved by Congress.
The Coast Guard cuts include deactivating Maritime Security Response Teams, which carry out counterterrorism patrols in ports and sensitive waterways.
At the TSA, the proposed budget cuts would eliminate four programs which have been considered a vital piece of airport security and for preventing a repetition of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings after planes are aloft. One, known as the “armed pilot” program, trains pilots and crews for an attempted armed takeover of an aircraft. Another program slated to be cut sends armed teams of highly trained, uniformed agents to sweep airports, train stations and bus terminals.
A total of $45 million in grants that local law enforcement uses to patrol in and around airports also would be eliminated, along with a program that uses specially trained TSA agents to watch passenger behavior in airports, particularly as fliers approach checkpoints, to single out those who appear to behave oddly. At FEMA, the spending plan — which could cut $361 million from FEMA’s $3.5 billion budget — also eliminates or reduces the federal commitment to helping states and local governments prepare for natural disasters.