WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Tuesday issued the following statement in reaction to the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement of cities eligible for the Urban Area Security Initiative grants.
“I am deeply disappointed, once again, that Connecticut’s most populous cities will not be eligible to apply for these critical risk-based security grants. The Department of Homeland Security apparently has decided, as it did last year, that Connecticut’s major population centers are not at risk of suffering from a terrorist attack, despite our state’s proximity to New York City, the help our first responders provided to New York City in the aftermath of 9/11, the state’s extensive ground transportation and port facilities, its storage of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a nuclear submarine base, and many other risk factors. Nutmeggers rightfully view themselves as within the area that could be hit by the next terrorist attack and yet they receive only minimal assistance to defend against and prepare for that day.” “The factors DHS uses to determine risks have changed from year to year, meaning one year a city qualifies for funding, as New Haven did in 2004, and the next year it doesn’t qualify, or a city is deemed at high risk one year and the next year it is not. This is not the way to help states and localities systematically develop the essential capabilities they need to keep citizens safe.” “The homeland security grant funding formula which I proposed with Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., and which the Senate overwhelmingly supported, would provide more funding based on an assessment of risks, while also imposing consistency on the Department and giving cities like Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford the chance to make their cases for federal funding.” “More significantly, this Administration has, year after year, reduced funding nationwide for homeland security grants, pursuing a wrong-headed policy in exact opposition to what every expert says it should follow. Forcing cities to compete for an ever decreasing share of federal support is tantamount to disarming in the middle of a war. We would never pursue such an approach to funding for those who protect us abroad, and we should not do so for those first responders who are on the frontlines of securing our country at home. I call on the White House to reverse this trend and fund the nation’s homeland security needs with the seriousness they deserve.”