Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 budget resolution to boost homeland security funding by $8 billion to ensure the ability of first responders to prevent, prepare for, and respond to catastrophic events, whether natural or man made, and to strengthen port, rail and transit, aviation, and chemical plant security.
Of the $8 billion in additional spending Lieberman proposed, $6.2 billion would go directly to the Department of Homeland Security. The remainder would be divided between the Department of Justice for law enforcement grants and the Department of Health and Human Services for public health preparedness.
The amendment would be paid for by closing a number of tax loopholes, therefore, it would not add to the deficit.
“September 11, 2001, has changed our lives forever,” Lieberman said. “We face new threats and must prepare accordingly. Yet, the Administration seems to have turned its back on the lessons of September 11, 2001. The federal response to Hurricane Katrina has proven for all to see that we are still a nation unprepared for catastrophe. And this budget resolution, which largely reflects the President’s budget proposal, does nothing to alter that fact. Without more support, our local communities will be unprepared for the next catastrophe.”
Lieberman’s amendment would:
Restore $1.6 billion in proposed cuts to first responder programs and add an additional $1.2 billion to improve state and local capabilities to deal with mass casualties and achieve communications interoperability.
Add $1.7 billion for port security and the Coast Guard, including $400 million for a dedicated port security grant program, $900 for acceleration of the Deepwater program, to restore the Coast Guard’s aging fleet, and $237 million to restore Administration cuts to the Guard’s budget. Another $19 million would increase staff for the C-TPAT program – which allows expedited shipping for known companies that voluntarily increase their security – and $105 million for next generation imaging inspection equipment.
Provide $500 million for transit security and $500 million for passenger rail security.
Add $150 million for chemical security so the Department of Homeland Security can invest in its review of risk assessments and security plans, inspections of chemical facilities, the establishment of area security committees, and a grants program to help establish security measures at high-risk facilities.
Increase Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for state and local bioterrorism preparedness by $500 million and add $500 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration bioterrorism program.
“Our enemies are ruthless and choose their own battlefields, and nature will strike in unpredictable ways, year after year,” Lieberman said. “Yet, many of our nation’s security gaps remain wide open. There is no cheap way to be better prepared.”