Washington, DC – Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) today introduced an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that rewrites the federal formula for state homeland security grants that are administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Collins-Lieberman legislation will target funding toward high-risk states and cities while ensuring that all states receive the resources needed to prevent and respond to potential terrorist acts. The new funding formula would be applied to grant appropriations for Fiscal Year 2006. The Collins-Lieberman amendment is similar to legislation they introduced earlier this year, S. 21, which was approved by a voice vote by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senator Collins is the Chairman and Senator Lieberman is the Ranking Member of the Committee, which has jurisdiction over DHS.
“Our legislation considerably improves the homeland security state grant process so the entire nation will be better prepared to respond to terrorist attacks. It also helps law enforcement officers across the country to focus on preventing terrorist attacks. We need to be prepared, but we will truly succeed if we stop attacks before they occur so we don’t have to implement our response plans,” said the Senators in a joint statement. “Our amendment also imposes tough new measures – such as an independent audit and new reporting requirements and bench marks – that will prevent homeland security dollars from being spent inefficiently.”
The Collins-Lieberman legislation distributes a greater percentage of homeland security funding to states based on threat than the current process, ensures that all grants are awarded only after states have completed an analysis of risk, threat, and vulnerability, and recognizes that all states need certain essential capabilities to prevent, prepare for, and react to terrorist attacks. In addition, the legislation requires greater input from first responders, allows greater flexibility for states and localities to put the funds to the best use, and establishes strong accountability measures to ensure that homeland security dollars are spent wisely.
The President of the International Union of Police Associations, which represents more than 110,000 field level law enforcement personnel wrote in a letter of support for the Collins-Lieberman legislation, “S.21 will place prevention in its proper place, in front of response. We will have better information sharing, target hardening, threat recognition, terrorist intervention activities, interoperable communication, and overtime expenses to carry out our mission of protecting the American public.” The legislation has also been endorsed by the National Governors Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Troopers Coalition, National Association of Police Organizations, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Emergency Managers, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, United Federation of Police Officers, Fraternal Order of Police, National Fire Protection Association, and International Association of Chiefs’ of Police.
A summary of the Collins-Lieberman amendment is available at: http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/homelandamendmentsummary.pdf.