(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray today introduced legislation to speed money to first responders in Washington state and across the country. Her amendment, offered at today's Budget Committee markup of the fiscal year 2004 budget, would have increased the first responder funding for fiscal year 2003 by $2.2 billion to ensure that local emergency response teams have the resources and training they need now. Murray's amendment failed on a party-line vote.
"We cannot nickel-and-dime our first responders, and we cannot protect our communities on a shoestring budget," Murray said. "Last week, in an address from the White House, the President reminded us that our country is now a battlefield. My amendment would have guaranteed that those on the front lines have the training and equipment they need to protect our communities."
Although he rejected homeland security funding passed by the Senate last year, President Bush nevertheless criticized the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill for falling $2.2 billion short of the amount needed to fund first responders. Murray's amendment would have provided the needed funding.
"The Republicans continue to push additional tax cuts in the face of our national security needs," Murray said. "Homeland security is a national issue and one that requires real commitment and shared sacrifice. I am disappointed that our federal government is leaving cash-strapped states like Washington holding the bag."