WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Tuesday voted in favor of investing additional dollars in the state and local first responders who “risk their lives to keep the rest of us safe.” Lieberman cosponsored an amendment by Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to add $1.6 billion, government wide, to the first responder budget. The Administration’s proposal contains an overall government-wide cut of $1.7 billion to first responder programs. The amendment failed on a mostly party line vote of 46-54, with Independent James Jeffords, of Vermont, and Republican Lincoln Chafee, of Rhode Island, voting in favor of the amendment.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to vote in favor of Senator Stabenow’s amendment,” Lieberman said. “First responders risk their lives to keep the rest of us safe and they should be provided with the equipment and training they need to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Our communities depend upon them.” Stabenow’s amendment would have boosted Department of Homeland Security state grant programs and reinstated two popular and effective law enforcement grants – the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants and the Community Orienting Policing Services – which the Administration has proposed eliminating. Earlier this month, Lieberman proposed a $4.2 billion increase for first responder and preventer training, hiring, and equipment, including interoperable communications equipment to enable first responders of different jurisdictions to speak to one another. Lieberman proposed an $8.4 billion boost to the President’s FY 2006 proposal for homeland security spending overall.