White House budget slashes 'countering violent extremism' grants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The budget proposal unveiled by the White House on Tuesday cut all funding to a Department of Homeland Security program known as “countering violent extremism,” which provides grants to communities to counter radicalism through outreach.

The program, whose roots go back to the Obama administration, has come under scrutiny by the Trump administration and some congressional Republicans who favor law enforcement, rather than community outreach, to fight what they see as a growing Islamic extremist threat.

At the beginning of the administration, some White House and DHS officials considered changing the name of the program to “countering Islamic extremism,” and refocusing the funding only on grants that dealt with the Islamic community, not other communities that may have extremist views like white supremacists.

The Trump administration has frozen $10 million in grants allocated at the end of the Obama administration under the countering violent extremism program and has yet to reallocate the funds.

The funding cuts proposed by the budget would reduce the $50 million currently allocated for the program down to zero for fiscal year 2018.

Congress must vote to pass the budget and it will likely be amended before being enacted.

Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by James Dalgleish and Jonathan Oatis