By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Highlights from President Donald Trump's budget for fiscal year 2019.
Trump's budget for 2019 shows the administration's concern about the threat from North Korea and its missile program.
The Pentagon is proposing to spend hundreds of millions more in 2019 on missile defense.
The budget calls for increasing the number of strategic missile interceptors from 44 to 64 and boosting other elements of missile defense.
The additional 20 interceptors would be based at Fort Greely, Alaska. Critics question the reliability of the interceptors, arguing that years of testing has yet to prove them to be sufficiently effective against a sophisticated threat.
The Pentagon also would invest more heavily in other missile defense systems, including the ship-based Aegis system and the Army's Patriot air and missile defense system, both of which are designed to defend against missiles of various ranges short of the intercontinental ballistic missile that is of greatest U.S. concern in the context of North Korea.
The second stage of Trump's proposed border wall in Texas' Rio Grande Valley would be 65 miles (104 kilometers) long, costing an average of $24.6 million a mile, according to the president's 2019 budget.
That matches the amount requested in Trump's 2018 budget to build or replace 74 miles (118 kilometers) in San Diego and Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.
Walls currently cover about one-third of the border with Mexico, and the administration wants eventually to spend up to $18 billion to extend the wall to nearly half the border. Trump has insisted Mexico pay for it; Mexico says that's a non-starter.
The proposal sets aside $782 million to hire 2,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, whose responsibilities include making deportation arrests, and 750 more Border Patrol agents toward Trump's long-term goal of 5,000. The proposal comes even as the administration has been unable to fill vacancies caused by attrition.
The administration also wants to raise capacity at its immigration detention facilities to 52,000 people.
It wants to collect $208 million in fees on "legitimate trade and travel" to pay for investigations into fraud and employers who hire people in the country illegally.
The budget also calls for adding 450 Secret Service agents and support staff to reach 7,600 this year and inch toward a long-term goal of 9,500. It sets aside $6.9 billion for disaster relief.
Trump's budget proposes major changes to Medicare's popular prescription benefit, creating winners and losers among the 42 million seniors with drug coverage.
On the plus side for seniors, the budget requires the insurance plans that deliver the prescription benefit to share with beneficiaries a substantial portion of rebates they receive from drug makers.
The budget also eliminates the 5 percent share of costs that an estimated 1 million beneficiaries with very high drug bills now must keep paying when they reach Medicare's "catastrophic" coverage. Instead seniors would pay nothing once they reach Medicare's catastrophic coverage level, currently $8,418 in total costs.
But on the minus side, the budget calls for changing the way Medicare accounts for certain discounts that drug makers now provide to seniors with significant drug bills.
That complex change would mean fewer seniors reach catastrophic coverage, and some will end up paying more than they do now.