(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Last month, Sen. Patty Murray stood toe-to-toe with the Bush Administration to insist that the White House abandon its plan to raid millions of dollars in port security funding. Today, Sen. Murray announced that her efforts have paid off, as the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will receive $14.2 million in Operation Safe Commerce (OSC) grants. The two Puget Sound ports will get more than half of the $28 million available in the second round of OSC funding.
Senator Murray, a leading advocate in the Senate for port security, wrote and developed OSC as a container and port security initiative at the nation’s three largest container load centers – New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles/Long Beach, and Seattle/Tacoma. She won Congressional approval of $58 million for the program in two spending bills (July 2002 and February 2003) and has earmarked an additional $30 million in a spending bill currently moving through Congress.
Earlier this year, however, the Bush Administration announced it would divert $28 million from Operation Safe Commerce, to spend elsewhere.
Upon learning of the Administration’s scheme, Murray placed a “hold” on a senior budget nominee in protest. After a month-long standoff, the Administration dropped its plan to divert the funding, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge wrote a letter to Murray, promising to release the $28 million in outstanding OSC funds. Today, that funding is being released to the nation’s ports.
“Protecting our ports is not an option, it is a necessity. Today’s announcement proves that it pays to stand up for what’s right. Despite the delays, these grants will go a long way toward protecting our ports and the thousands of people who live and work nearby,” Senator Murray said. “I have been working on this initiative for more than a year, and I will continue to work to ensure the safety and security of Washington state families and businesses.”
The grants are awarded on a competitive basis by the Operation Safe Commerce Executive Steering Community, which is made up of representatives of the Coast Guard, Customs, the Department of Transportation, and the Transportation Security Administration.