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Bush Administration Proposes Security-Laden Federal Budget

By Eric Pianin

and Bill Miller

Concerns about homeland security permeate virtually every facet of federal spending as the Bush administration moves to redefine the government’s mission in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the fiscal 2003 budget released Monday shows.

While police and firefighters, border security agents, bioterrorism experts and intelligence agencies understandably were among the biggest gainers in the new budget -- which contains nearly $38 billion for domestic security activities -- agencies that once had only the most remote links to homeland security are being showered with funds for that purpose.

The Agriculture Department, for example, would spend $146 million on various programs to protect the nation’s food supply from threats ranging from terrorists to insects. The little known Commerce Department Bureau of Export Administration would receive $30 million more than in fiscal 2002 to make sure that potentially dangerous materials exported to other countries don’t end up in the hands of terrorists.

The Interior Department would be given $884 million over last year to protect national monuments and parks. The Small Business Administration would get millions more for its disaster loan program to assist in case of renewed attacks, and the U.S. Customs Service would boost revenue for homeland security activities by raising passenger fees for those traveling by air or sea.

Bush’s budget plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 shifts resources from other areas to double spending for homeland security -- from $19.5 billion this year to $37.5 billion in fiscal 2003.

Budget and government experts say that while many of these expenditures are to be expected in the face of repeated government warnings of more terrorist activity, some caution that spending could get out of hand.