WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. – pushing to add $6.8 billion to President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2005 homeland security budget – said Thursday the Administration’s budget does not acknowledge, much less address, new terrorist threats that face the nation. Speaking on the Senate floor, Lieberman said his amendment would provide an additional $4.4 billion for first responders, who suffer a 30 percent cut in the President’s budget proposal.
“We are not as safe as we should be because this Administration has not given homeland security the focused leadership and resources it demands,” Lieberman said. “Unfortunately, the president’s budget does not boldly acknowledge and address the many threats that we face, and it leaves state and local governments bearing too much of the burden of securing our homeland.” In addition to the $4.4 billion for first responders, Lieberman proposes an additional: · $900 million for port security · $500 million for bio-terror preparedness · $500 million for border security · $500 million to secure air cargo, as well as trains and mass transit systems. Some $2.5 billion of Lieberman’s proposal would be used simply to restore cuts the president made in port security, bio-terror preparedness, and first responder programs. For example, Lieberman would restore a $1 billion cut to the program that provides primary assistance to state and local governments and first responders for emergency planning, equipment, training, and other preparedness activities. He also restores more than $1 billion in cuts to proven law enforcement assistance programs – the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, the Byrne program, and the COPS program – which together have declined more than $1.8 billion since FY 2002. Another $1 billion is set aside to help first responders obtain interoperable communications equipment. The spending, along with an equivalent amount in deficit reduction, would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year. “We have a long way to go before the federal government fulfills the promise made to the American people following the September 11th attacks, to adequately secure our homeland,” Lieberman said. Co-sponsors of the amendment include Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Frank Lautenburg, D-N.J, Joe Biden, D-Del., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Jon Corzine, D-N.J., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Bob Graham, D-Fla.. Click on link below for a copy of a full Lieberman statement on the amendment.