Key U.S. senators have moved to increase the number of FBI agents investigating mortgage fraud and Internet predators, rebuffing a request by President Bush to pay for no new special agents in the bureau’s crime-fighting squads, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The proposal came in the federal spending bill that sets the agency’s budget for fiscal 2009, which begins Oct. 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to pass the measure today. It would pay for 280 new agents to focus on counterterrorism and intelligence but also would allow the FBI to hire 56 new agents to tackle crime.
The bill would fund a total of 12,281 agents. It is evidence of resistance from Congress to the dramatic reshaping of the FBI since the 2001 attacks. The bureau has undergone a major shift away from its traditional investigations of white-collar crime and bank robberies to focus intensely on counterterrorism. FBI director Robert Mueller said last night that the bureau would welcome additional funds from Congress to bolster its crime-fighting mission.