|WASHINGTON — Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. issued the following statement Thursday following the release of the Obama Administration’s FY2010 Department of Homeland Security budget:
“The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a 6.6 percent increase in its 2010 budget, which in this tough economic environment is good news. The budget will ensure that broad critical missions – such as protecting the southwest border, securing cyber networks, and managing billions of dollars in procurements each year – can be carried out, although I am disappointed by some of the Administration’s decisions.
“I am especially pleased that the President’s budget acknowledges the grave threat posed by gun, cash, and human smuggling in the border region by including an increase of $135 million for the Southwest border initiative, although that sum falls far short of a $520 million increase Senator Collins and I secured in the Senate budget resolution. And I would note that too few resources are being directed at southbound inspections to ensure that we are not arming the cartels with the guns and cash that they need to wage war against the Mexican government.
“A $21 million bump up for the Office of Procurement will help reduce cost and schedule overruns and faulty performance of major acquisitions. Additional funds for training will produce more qualified personnel for acquisition career tracks.
“The Administration’s $87 million increase overall for the Department’s National Cybersecurity Division is welcome news and will help the department move forward to coordinate the security of critical cyber systems and information.
"Essentially flat funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s operations budget could impair its steady transformation into an agency capable of responding to catastrophes.
"And I regret that the Administration is seeking cuts in key homeland security grants states need to train and equip fire fighters and to protect seaports, rail, and transit systems. While I support a substantial and long-overdue increase in funding for the SAFER grant program, which assists communities in hiring fire fighters, I am deeply disappointed that the Administration would decrease by nearly 70 percent the Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant Program, which helps fire departments with essential equipment and training. I’m also disappointed that funding for port and transit security grants would decrease by more than one-third. Experience has proven that these grants go a long way toward improving our homeland security.
“I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues as the budget process moves forward to ensure that the Department has the funding it needs to perform all of its missions. We will move that process along next Tuesday when DHS Secretary Napolitano testifies before the Committee on the Department’s priorities.”