Congress Approves Additional $20 Million For Port Security, But Collins Says More Is Needed

WASHINGTON- Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees homeland security, said Tuesday that she was pleased that Congress included $20 million for port security in the 2003 emergency supplemental appropriations bill passed this weekend and pledged to press for additional funding in 2004.

On April 8, the Port Security Caucus, which Collins co-chairs, sent a letter, signed by 51 caucus members, to Senate conferees, asking them to include additional funding for port security upgrades in the final bill.

“I am pleased that Senate conferees agreed to provide $20 million for our ports, but still more will be needed,” Collins said.

Since September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated only $368 million for port infrastructure improvements even though the U.S. Coast Guard has estimated that the security upgrades could cost as much as $963 million for fiscal year 2004 and $4.4 billion over the next 10 years. The final legislation provides $2.23 billion in funding for first responders, $228 million for the Coast Guard, most of which funds operations in support of Operation Liberty Shield and $38 million for port vulnerability assessments. In addition, the legislation includes $150 million for the Counterterrorism Fund to address emerging homeland security needs and $170 million for Immigration and Customs enforcement in support of Operation Liberty Shield.