(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) today introduced legislation that would prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from imposing costly new matching fund requirements for Homeland Security grants on state and local governments. Beginning as early as next year, DHS has informed states, counties and cities that they may be required to pay an estimated 25 percent cash or in-kind match for the State Homeland Security Grant and the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant they receive. Senator Murray’s legislation, The Homeland Security Partners Preservation Act of 2008, would prevent DHS from requiring a match as a condition of the grant, and would make Congress, not DHS responsible for approving any new match requirement.
"During these tough economic times, our state and local governments are already struggling to provide even basic services to their constituents," said Senator Murray. "Forcing them to now come up with millions for homeland security - without careful consideration of the costs - is irresponsible and unrealistic. Instead of allowing this decision to be made by DHS bureaucrats, my bill would require Congress to consider the impacts of this change on their communities and then move forward."
"State and local governments have stepped forward to assist the federal government and are already dedicating a great deal of support," said Jim Mullen, Director of Washington State Emergency Management Division. "Imposing a match requirement on top of the considerable investment cities, counties and states are already contributing could make continuing to do so untenable for many jurisdictions."
As a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has been a strong supporter of funding for state and local first responders and emergency managers, despite repeated Bush Administration cuts. Last week, Senator Murray announced that Washington state received over $32 million under two these grant programs for important homeland security initiatives in the state. Under the proposed DHS changes, Washington state, as well as counties and cities that receive funding from these grants, would have to provide over $8 million in matches at a time when they are struggling to cut their budgets.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s proposed match requirement would be a fundamental transformation to the way states, counties and cities participate in these grant programs,” Senator Murray said. “The Department’s proposed changes threaten the tremendous partnerships and progress our states and cities have made with the federal government and with each other to improve our nation’s security.”