Trump Administration Proposes $86 Billion Spy Budget to Take On Russia and China
American intelligence spending could rise to nearly $86 billion, a 6 percent increase that reflects the Trump administration’s proposed boost in defense and national security spending and a renewed focus on threats from Russia and China.
The director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, released the overall proposed budget for American intelligence agencies on Monday, and the Pentagon also released its proposed intelligence spending for the fiscal year starting in October.
The budget covers expenses as diverse as spy satellites, cyberweapons and the C.I.A.’s network of overseas spies and informants. But neither the administration nor Congress releases details about the so-called black budget, which is classified.
The proposed spending increase comes despite President Trump’s sometimes tempestuous relationship with his intelligence agencies and his public comments in late January that his spy chiefs should “go back to school.” Mr. Trump clashed with his intelligence agencies after a Senate hearing in which intelligence chiefs offered assessments of Iran and North Korea that were at odds with the president’s views
The budget includes $62.8 billion for the national intelligence program overseen by the director of national intelligence and the Pentagon’s $22.95 billion military intelligence program that supports the armed services and tactical units.
Although details of the budget are secret, broadly the spending shifts reflect the increased costs of focusing less on counterterrorism and more on espionage and cyberthreats from other nations.
This budget for the intelligence agencies is the first crafted with new national security and national intelligence strategies in place. Those documents laid out the challenge from China and Russia, and said the United States was in a new great-power competition with those nations.
Both the overall Pentagon budget and the classified intelligence budget propose spending more money on capabilities to compete with Russia and China, in particular on cyberoperations, according to current and former officials.
Countering those capabilities by China and Russia is a more difficult, and expensive, endeavor than combating terrorism, the officials said. So shifting the focus of the agencies to the so-called great-power competition with Moscow and Beijing has demanded more resources, former officials said.
Like all of the administration’s budget proposals, the intelligence funding must be approved by Congress. Intelligence spending is typically not as partisan as other parts of the budget, and members of Congress broadly support a stepped-up focus on China and Russia.
The intelligence budget contains both funding in the base budget and funding included in the so-called Overseas Contingency Fund, which covers continuing military conflicts. But the administration does not break down how much of its budget request is part of the war funding measure.
The overall intelligence budget began falling in 2011, as troops left Iraq and tactical military intelligence spending was reduced. The intelligence budget that Mr. Coats oversees began to decline in 2012, then began to rise once more in 2016. Military intelligence spending began to rise in 2018 with the Trump administration’s new investments in the Pentagon budget.