WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., issued the following statement Thursday in response to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s comments on department funding for FY2004:
“I am disheartened to learn that the Bush Administration plans to continue withholding critical resources for vital homeland security needs. Governor Ridge announced Thursday the Administration will seek only $36.2 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, and only $41.3 billion for homeland defense government-wide – an increase of $3 to $4 billion over last year’s proposal.
“This doesn’t come close to the investment experts say is needed to address glaring vulnerabilities in our homeland defenses. Numerous authorities have warned that we are as vulnerable to terrorist attack today as we were a year ago, and that a dramatic new flow of resources is needed to begin to close perilous security gaps. We know that this proposed increase is not enough to cover clearly identified needs for first responders, port security and bioterrorism, much less new duties of the Department such as intelligence analysis and developing science and technology to advance homeland security.
“Homeland security can not be won on the cheap, and I will continue to agitate for the essential new funding this massive challenge requires.
“Unfortunately, the Bush Administration proposal continues a dangerous pattern of shortchanging homeland accounts. Last year, the Administration allowed homeland programs to limp along without promised increases amid the budget impasses, and the President even blocked $2.5 billion for homeland security needs that was approved as part of the emergency supplemental. During recent Senate debate on the omnibus appropriations bill, the Administration and Republicans fought Democratic efforts to add $5 billion in vital homeland security spending to the omnibus appropriations bill for FY 03.
“The new Department of Homeland Security cannot succeed in keeping the nation safe unless we give it the resources required for a full frontal assault on terrorism.”