Critics have slammed President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget for taking funding away from protecting ports against the threat of nuclear attack and concentrating it on his Mexico border wall plans, according to Pilot Online.
Senators, counterterrorism experts and port operators have voiced concerns after learning that 361 ports on America's 95,000 miles of coastline have been allocated $48 million in grant funding.
Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said last month that she was “seriously concerned” that budget cuts would weaken the country’s ability to detect, prevent, and respond to future attacks.
Her message was backed by Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who stated that he would fight against any plan that defunds “critical counterterrorism programs” such as those at the Port of Virginia.
Kaine said: “We should be focused on protecting our nation against credible threats and I’ll oppose any proposal that would jeopardize the safety of Virginians.”
US Analysts have determined that if a weapon of mass destruction were to be deployed, it would likely be delivered in one of the 12 million shipping containers arriving in the country’s ports every year.
The US’ Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has supported the theory by warning that North Korea could deliver a nuclear attack in such a way.
Determining that ports were “susceptible to large scale acts of terrorism”, Congress established the Port Security Grant Program in October 2002 to fund radiation detection scanners, security systems and maintenance, and training at maritime ports.
The Trump budget is also cutting the US Coast Guard budget, which provides layers of protection by tracking incoming vessels, scanning for illicit weapons, and making sure foreign ports have adequate security.
Trump's funding has been called into question before after he requested US$108 million to deepen harbours at two ports on the US East Coast, while other ports scratch the barrel to fund expansion projects.