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Washington, DC -- Today, two weeks following the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and four years after the tragedy of September 11th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) joined her colleagues: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) in calling for a renewed emphasis on emergency preparedness. The Senators noted that now - four years after the national tragedy of September 11, 2001 - our government has clearly not done enough to prepare Americans for a wide scale national disaster or terrorist attack.



“There have been so many heroes in the Gulf Coast over the past few weeks. But our country cannot rely on heroism alone – we need to provide our responders with the resources and funding they need to do the jobs we ask them to do,” Senator Murray said.



“This Administration has gambled by cutting emergency preparedness resources in favor of other priorities. Unfortunately, for the people of the Gulf Coast, for our economy, for the future prosperity of our nation, and for all Americans, their gamble has failed us.”



Senator Murray has consistently worked to provide resources for our nation’s emergency preparedness systems and first-responders. When the White House eliminated funding for Project Impact - a pre-disaster program that that saved lives and prevented damage during the Nisqually Earthquake – Murray led the fight along with her colleagues to restore the project.



More recently, Murray fought the President’s cuts to the Emergency Management Planning Grants (EMPG) - the Administration’s fiscal year 2005 budget would have cut these grants by $8 million.



“How can we expect to inspire new democracies around the world, if we do not make the necessary investments to inspire confidence in our communities here at home,” Murray asked today.



A full transcript of Senator Murray’s remarks at today’s press conference follows:



“There have been so many heroes in the Gulf Coast over the past few weeks.



“From the firefighters and the police to National Guard members who came back from Iraq only to be sent into another war zone in their own country, to neighbors helping neighbors – we have seen the American spirit shine in our darkest hours.



“But our country cannot rely on heroism alone – we need to provide our responders with the resources and funding they need to do the jobs we ask them to do.



“This Administration has gambled by cutting emergency preparedness resources in favor of other priorities.



“Unfortunately, for the people of the Gulf Coast, for our economy, for the future prosperity of our nation, and for all Americans, their gamble has failed us.



“The Administration’s very first budget showed a lack of foresight when it comes to the possibility of natural disaster or the need for emergency response.



“Back in 2001, I – along with many of my Senate colleagues – fought this Administration when President Bush tried to eliminate Project Impact, a pre-disaster program that that saved lives and prevented damage during the worst earthquake to hit my home state of Washington in over 50 years.



“In the case of Project Impact, this lack of foresight, lack of planning and lack of putting the well-being of Americans ahead of shortsighted economic policies would have put the safety and security of our nation at risk.



“Luckily, my colleagues rejected these cuts and helped put Project Impact funds back into the national budget.



“Project Impact is not the only example of the Administration’s experimentation with cutting our emergency management systems.



“As we have seen over the past two weeks, there have been major holes in our communications systems, our emergency response systems and with mobilizing search and rescue operations.



“How can we expect to inspire new democracies around the world, if we do not make the necessary investments to inspire confidence in our communities here at home.



“In order to grow our communities – from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Northwest – and in order to keep jobs here in this country, we have to inspire confidence in businesses that we have the infrastructure and workers they need to locate here and keep America strong.



“It is far past time to make the safety and security of Americans a national priority, and we can begin by restoring critical funding to our emergency preparedness systems.



‘The lesson is clear- you can't cut emergency preparedness before a disaster, and then hope things will be fine after a disaster.



“Unfortunately, for years this Administration has had the wrong priorities.



“As we continue to support the workers, residents and communities who are trying to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Katrina and put their lives back together, I want to make sure that we learn lessons that will help protect all Americans – no matter where they live.



‘One of the clear lessons we need to learn from this disaster is that – when you cut funding for emergency preparedness, and when you cut funding for disaster assistance, you put America lives at risk.



“I want to make sure we learn that lesson now – before another American community pays the price.”