(Washington, D.C.) On the same day that President Bush signed the SAFE Port Act into law, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) wrote to White House Budget Director Robert Portman and urged him to include funding for port security in the President’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2008.
Murray, who helped write the law and attended today’s signing ceremony, called on the White House to affirm its commitment to safer ports by setting aside the funding necessary to implement the law.
The text of Senator Murray’s letter follows:
October 13, 2006
The Honorable Robert J. Portman
Office of Management and Budget
Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Ambassador Portman:
As you prepare to submit your Fiscal Year 2008 Budget to Congress, I write to urge you to ensure that this budget include the funding necessary to implement the SAFE Ports Act of 2006.
The Congress and the President have confirmed that the security of our ports is a top priority. On September 30, the Senate unanimously passed the SAFE Ports Act, and the House of Representatives voted 409-2 in favor of the bill. Earlier this morning, President Bush signed the bill into law. The Office of Management and Budget should now affirm this commitment to the security of our ports by including funding for the programs in the SAFE Ports Act in the FY 2008 presidential budget.
The SAFE Ports Act builds upon recommendations in the 9/11 Commission Report as well as a number of reports of the Government Accountability Office to improve the security of our international supply chain. Specifically, the bill authorizes and strengthens the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, the Container Security Initiative, and the port security grant program. Importantly, the bill balances improved security with efficient trade. It establishes the Director of Trade Policy in the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and authorizes 1,000 additional CBP personnel to assist with both security and trade functions.
As a former U.S. Trade Representative, you well understand the importance of trade to the U.S. economy. And I do not have to remind you of the crippling effects an attack at one of our seaports could cause to the U.S. and global economies. The SAFE Ports Act provides the tools to help prevent such an attack, but without adequate funding, we will never see these important programs actually be implemented to improve the security of our seaports and our global supply chain. OMB can take the first steps to ensure that these programs become more than empty words on a paper.
The budget is a statement of priorities, and I believe that in order to make America safer and stronger we need make these critical investments here at home and around the world. I urge you to carefully consider these concerns and priorities as you prepare to submit your budget to Congress. These are real priorities of families not only in Washington State but across America.
I believe you can submit a realistic, fiscally sound budget that includes funding for port security, and that we can work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the security of our families and our communities.
I thank you for your service and look forward to working with you on the FY 2008 budget.
United States Senator