Cantwell Pushes to Restore Terrorism Prevention Grants Slated for Elimination
Bush plan would eliminate homeland security program that provided nearly $10 million to Washington state first responders this year
WASHINGTON, DC – Wednesday, following a key subcommittee’s decision to move ahead with cuts to vital homeland security grant programs, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) continued her call to reverse the funding reduction. Last Friday, Cantwell had urged Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee leaders to restore funding to the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), which helps state and local governments prevent and respond to acts of terrorism. The Bush Administration has proposed eliminating the program as part of a grant restructuring plan that would also reduce the overall number of homeland security grants available for the third consecutive year despite strong evidence of security vulnerabilities.
“At a time when it’s clear our communities remain vulnerable, this administration has proposed eliminating a program that assists state and local first responders in the war on terror,” said Cantwell. “Cutting off communities across our state and the country is not the way to secure America. We spend hundreds of billions to fight terrorism abroad and we have a responsibility to give our nation’s first responders here at home the support they need. These programs get equipment and training to our first responders, enhance information sharing, and improve communication. It’s not the kind of thing that belongs on the chopping block.”
In 2006, Washington state received $9.26 million through LETPP. This funding helps support information sharing at the Washington Joint Analytical Center (WAJAC) as well as planning, training, exercises, and equipment procurement for local jurisdictions and first responders across the state. The fact that Washington receives more funds from LETPP than from the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which aids large urban centers, highlights the vulnerabilities that the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement officials have recognized in Washington state outside the Seattle urban area.
In a letter sent Friday to Chairman Gregg Judd (R-NH) and Ranking Member Robert Byrd (D-WV) of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Cantwell called on her colleagues to restore funding for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program.
“It is imperative that we take the necessary steps to make a real commitment and investment to first responders serving our states, counties and cities,” wrote Cantwell. “Each day, these individuals are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and freedom. We owe it to them to provide the best training and equipment they need to do their jobs.”
In 2005, Congress allocated $3.61 billion for the Homeland Security Grant Program, with LETPP receiving $400 million. Earlier this year, the administration proposed cutting 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program funding to $2.57 million—$395 million less than in 2006 and more than $1 billion below the 2005 level. The administration proposed consolidating individual grant programs, which would not only reduce the resources available to urban areas, but would eliminate the LETPP program all together. Last year, the program was funded at $400 million. Tuesday, the subcommittee restored $350 million in LETPP funding for 2007. The subcommittee’s decision to fund LETPP at $350 million will prevent its elimination, but will still leave the program with far less funding than in previous years.
[The text of Cantwell’s letter follows below]
June 23, 2006
Dear Chairman Gregg and Ranking Member Byrd:
As the Subcommittee on Homeland Security prepares to mark up the fiscal year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, I respectfully request that you restore funding for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program.
As you know, overall funding provided for homeland security grant programs have been in steady decline. In FY2005, Congress appropriated $3.61 billion for the Homeland Security Grant Program, including $400 million for Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program. In FY2006, total Homeland Security Grant Program funding was reduced by $645 million to $2.97 billion including a flat-line allocation for Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program. However, for FY2007, the Administration’s budget request, proposes further cutting Homeland Security Grant Program funding to $2.57 million, including elimination of the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program. I find this proposal very concerning.
The recent apprehension of terror suspects in Atlanta and Miami underscores the vital importance in providing resources to address the threat of terrorism domestically. This reality is that my state has been concerned about domestic threats since 1999 when Ahmed Ressam tried to enter the United States at Port Angeles with a carload of explosives after first going through France and Canada . The Law Enforcement Terrorism Protection Program provides much needed resources not only to our urban centers, but to all states and local jurisdictions based on risk and need. This year, Washington received $9.26 million in Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program funding, representing nearly 30 percent of our state’s total counter-terrorism grants. The $32.2 million our state received last year helped enhance Washington state’s preparedness by supporting a number of initiatives including intelligence sharing at the Washington Joint Analytical Center as well as planning, training, exercises, and equipment procurement for local jurisdictions and first responders across the state. The Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program is particularly important to supporting counter-terrorism and preparedness efforts in communities such as Vancouver and Spokane, large cities with dense population centers and critical infrastructure but ineligible for grant funding under the Urban Area Security Initiative. There is a lot of need for this money, and not enough to go around as it is. Making further cuts to the funding will put many of our first responders and our domestic preparedness units at a real disadvantage.
It is imperative that we take the necessary steps to make a real commitment and investment to first responders serving our states, counties and cities. Each day, these individuals are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and freedom. We owe it to them to provide the best training and equipment they need to do their jobs.
I thank you for your consideration and I look forward to working with you and the members of the subcommittee as we continue forward in providing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for FY2007.
United States Senator
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