(Washington, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the port security grants program, a key part of her landmark SAFE Ports Act, received full funding in the 2008 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The bill passed the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee today and will be voted on by the full Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow (6/14).
The $400 million included today is the full level for the port security grants program authorized in the SAFE Ports Act and is a $190 million increase over the President's request for Fiscal Year 2008.
"This is a big victory for the security infrastructure of our nation’s ports," said Senator Murray. "These grants mean more bomb and chemical detectors, cameras, and security gates. They also mean more funding for the security operations and training that are critical to responding to an incident. I am committed to keeping these grants fully funded so that our ports – the economic engines of our state – remain secure."
The Department of Homeland Security awards the grants on a competitive basis, so it not possible to tell how much of the new funding will go to Washington state ports. Traditionally, Washington state ports have received significant port security grant funding. In the 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, Washington state ports were awarded over $18 million in port security grants.
Murray's SAFE Ports Act, which was signed into law in October 2006, takes critical steps forward in securing our nation's ports, while keeping trade moving efficiently. In addition to creating the port security grant program, the bipartisan SAFE Ports act raises security standards for all cargo entering the U.S., creates a pilot project to scan 100% of cargo containers overseas, and creates a system to resume trade after an incident.