WASHINGTON – Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Tuesday hailed the Senate’s decision to adopt a balanced approach to homeland security funding by ensuring that all states get a minimum level of money to prepare for and recover from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
In adopting this approach, the Senate endorsed a provision of the Improving America’s Security Act of 2007, S. 4, that would authorize $3.105 billion for each of the next three years for homeland security grant programs and $3.3 billion over five years for an interoperable communications grant program.
“The Senate voted to guarantee that terrorism-oriented homeland security grants are distributed overwhelmingly based on risk, which is exactly what the 9/11 Commission recommended, while at the same time strengthening an all-hazards approach to homeland security, ensuring that all states have a basic capacity to prepare for and respond to both man-made and natural disasters,” said Lieberman. “These grant programs will go a long way toward helping state and local first responders keep their communities safe.”
The Senate voted to set aside two amendments to the bill, S.4, which would have lowered the minimum level of homeland security funding to all states from the current 0.75 percent of the total pot to 0.25 percent or 0.45 percent for border states. The Senate also defeated an effort to restore the minimum to its current 0.75 percent level.
The result authorizes a restoration of homeland security funding to its 2004 level. Two grant programs, the Urban Area Security Initiative and the State Homeland Security Grant Program, are intended to improve prevention and preparedness for terrorist attacks, and are distributed overwhelmingly based on the risk a state or locality faces from a terrorist attack. The two remaining grants programs, the Emergency Management Performance Grants and Emergency Communications and Interoperability Grants, bolster efforts to ensure that states and localities across the country have basic capabilities to respond to a range of hazards, whether natural or man-made.
The programs are as follows:
Urban Area Security Initiative – provides $1.269 billion for grants to high-risk urban areas. The grants are allocated based on threat, vulnerability and consequences faced by the area from a terrorist attack. There is no minimum level of funding. The 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States are eligible to apply for these grants.
State Homeland Security Grant Program – provides $913 million for grants to states based on the threat, vulnerability and consequences faced by the state from a terrorist attack. Each state is required to receive a minimum of 0.45 percent of the funds under this program.
Emergency Management Performance Grants Program – provides $913 million for grants to states to prepare for and respond to all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters. The funds are allocated according to an existing formula, which provides for each state to receive a minimum of 0.75 percent of the funds for the program, with the remaining funds distributed to states in proportion to their population.
Emergency Communications and Interoperability Grants Program – provides $3.3 billion over the next five years to states specifically for emergency and interoperable communications. Each state receives a minimum of 0.75 percent of the funds each year. In applying for the grants, states would have to demonstrate that the grants would be used in a way that is consistent with their state-wide interoperability plans and the National Emergency Communications Plan. The states would be required to pass at least 80 percent of the total amount of the grants they receive to local and tribal governments.
“The grants ensure that funds targeted for building terrorism-specific capabilities go out overwhelmingly to those states and urban areas that our intelligence and our intuition tell us are most at risk from terrorist attack,” said Lieberman. “But because we never know where a terrorist will plan or carry out an attack, and because all regions are vulnerable to natural disasters, we would provide adequate funds to make sure that all states can prepare for all hazards.”