Sen. Collins Commends President for Steps to Improve Homeland Security Preparedness

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today commended President Bush for issuing two directives to strengthen America’s homeland security preparedness—updating the federal response to terrorist threats and coordinating assistance for state and local first responders.

“These new directives are a welcome development in our efforts to improve homeland security, and I commend President Bush for issuing them today,” said Senator Collins, whose committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security. “In the post 9/11 world, we cannot afford weak links in our critical infrastructure protection or gaps in our support for local first responders.”

Last month, following her committee’s hearing on agroterrorism, Senator Collins urged President Bush in a letter to establish new policy on critical infrastructure protection. “As part of this effort, I hope you will define the roles and responsibilities of federal agencies, establish an effective means of interagency coordination, facilitate coordination with the private sector, and include important agricultural and food preparation and distribution assets among the critical infrastructure that requires heightened protection,” Senator Collins wrote. Today’s directive updates the policy as Senator Collins requested in her letter.

The President also issued a directive to assist state and local first responders by making sure that equipment purchased with federal funds is interoperable and meets certain standards, and by coordinating state and local emergency training programs with federal agencies. Senator Collins had promoted those actions in her legislation, the Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act (S. 1245), which was unanimously approved by her committee in June.

“I applaud the new directive, which is designed to provide first responders with the tools and training they need, while at the same time building a firewall against unnecessary duplication and wasteful spending,” said Senator Collins.