WASHINGTON—The Senate today approved an amendment introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Tom Carper (D-DE) that would redefine the funding formula for the distribution of homeland security grants, more than doubling the amount allocated to states that are considered high-risk for terrorist attacks and ensuring that all states receive a baseline level of funding. The legislation, called the Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act, would also help deliver federal homeland security grants to local first responders more efficiently and expeditiously. The 9/11 Commission has endorsed this provision.
The legislation was offered as an amendment to the Collins-Lieberman National Intelligence Reform Act, which is being considered this week by the Senate. Senators Collins and Lieberman are the leaders, and Senator Carper is a member, of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“The distribution of federal homeland security dollars should be determined according to risk and vulnerability to terrorist attacks. At the same time, every state has vulnerabilities and each should be ensured a baseline level of homeland security funding to assure preparedness,” said the Senators in a joint statement. “This legislation addresses the homeland security needs of small and rural states, as well as states with major metropolitan centers.”
The Collins-Lieberman-Carper amendment would also streamline the grant process to ensure that local first responders receive homeland security funding more quickly and establishes a “one stop shopping” Homeland Security Information Clearinghouse to provide states and local governments with the information they need on grant programs. The legislation directs DHS to create a national domestic preparedness training center to assist states in developing, maintaining and adopting certifiable training standards for first responders. It also gives state and local governments greater flexibility to transfer state homeland security grant funds among different preparedness activities, such as training, planning and equipment.
“Our amendment would provide states with the predictable, steady stream of homeland security dollars they need to defend themselves from terrorist threats,” said the Senators.
The National Governors Association, Advocates for EMS, National Council of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, International City/County Management Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and National Fire Chiefs Association have endorsed the Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act.