Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said Tuesday the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2007 homeland security budget should be increased by $8 billion in order to prevent, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and catastrophic natural disasters.
In the aftermath of the response to Hurricane Katrina, which exposed deep flaws in the federal preparedness and response system, the Administration’s homeland security budget proposal only recommends an actual one percent increase over Fiscal Year 2006, an increase that doesn’t even keep pace with the rate of inflation. This cuts or under-funds many critical homeland security needs such as first responder training and equipment, port security, rail and transit security, bioterrorism preparedness, and chemical plant security
“The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget reflects an inadequate investment of resources that will prevent us from doing what is necessary to protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and natural disasters,” Lieberman said. “Therefore, I am calling for $8 billion in additional funding above the Administration’s proposal to restore risky cuts and make significant new investments in a wide array of critical security programs.”
Senator Lieberman’s requested increases would add $6.3 billion to the Department of Homeland Security’s budget and $1.8 billion to homeland security programs in other departments. The requests will make up the substance of a letter from Senator Lieberman to Budget Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and Ranking Member Kent Conrad, D-S.D.
Above and beyond the Administration’s proposals, Lieberman wants:
• $2.8 billion more for first responders
• $1.7 billion more for port security and the Coast Guard
• $1 billion for rail and transit security
• $1 billion for emergency health preparedness programs
• $150 million for chemical security
More specifically, Senator Lieberman recommends a $1.6 billion increase to restore cuts in key homeland security grant programs such as the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG), the Metropolitan Medical Response System program (MMRS), Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Fire Assistance and SAFER grants to bring them back to FY2006 levels.
As part of the $2.8 billion first responder recommendation, Senator Lieberman is requesting $850 million specifically to help first responders achieve communications interoperability.
He is recommending distinct grant security programs for ports ($400 million), rails ($500 million), transit ($500 million), buses ($10 million), and the trucking industry ($5 million).
Senator Lieberman is recommending a near doubling of the Administration’s proposed $934 million for the Coast Guard’s fleet modernization program – for a total of $1.8 billion to accelerate the Deepwater program to a ten-year lifecycle. He also proposes restoring $233 million in funding cuts for traditional missions of the Coast Guard. And he is requesting an additional $19 million for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) which allows expedited border processing for shippers who have voluntarily implemented certain security measures, and $105 million for the purchase and deployment of additional cargo container imaging systems.
Regarding bioterrorism and other health emergency preparedness needs, Senator Lieberman is recommending a $500 million increase to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding for state and local bioterrorism preparedness for a total of $1.3 billion. And he is recommending a doubling of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) hospital preparedness program within the Department of Health and Human Services to bring it to $1 billion.
In light of across-the-board deficiencies at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina, the Senator is recommending doubling the $34 million Administration request for a total of $68 million for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) emergency response teams which have not seen a budget increase for three years. Furthermore, he is recommending a $456 million increase for FEMA’s two accounts that fund most of the readiness, response, and recover functions.
The Senator recommends an additional $150 million for chemical security programs, to boost the Administration’s $10 million proposal. In Fiscal year 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard spent $131 million on security of chemical plants located near ports. The additional $150 million will allow the Department of Homeland Security to invest in the security of inland chemical plants, as well.
Finally, the Senator is recommending an increase of $752 million for various aviation security programs, including $92 million above the Administration’s $8.3 million request to purchase, deploy, and maintain cutting edge checkpoint technologies; $400 million above the Administration request for airport explosives detection equipment; $250 million above the Administration’s proposal of $50 million for air cargo security programs; and $10 million for general aviation security to address vulnerabilities highlighted in a recent Connecticut report on the subject.
For the past three years, Senator Lieberman has criticized the Administration’s proposed homeland security budgets for failing to provide the resources needed to protect this country adequately.
“Not only does the Administration budget cut and under-fund critical programs, it fails to outline a comprehensive strategy for filling existing gaps in our homeland defense,” Senator Lieberman said. “The Administration’s approach simply does not reflect the urgency of the homeland security threats this nation faces.”