News Releases

NORTHERN BORDER: Murray Includes $3 million to Help Northern Border Communities Afford Security in 2009 Federal Spending Bill

Feb 24 2009

Funding will reimburse Northern Border communities for law enforcement expenses, help to cover border-related costs at a time when local budgets are stretched thin

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has secured $3 million in the final version of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill to help Washington’s communities be reimbursed for costs incurred from protecting the Northern Border. The Northern Border Prosecutor Initiative (NBPI) helps local communities pay for judicial, penal, and enforcement expenses that result from federal border-related crime, such as captured international fugitives, international drug trafficking and crimes committed by persons refused entry into Canada. When the U.S. Department of Justice declines to prosecute these federal border-related crimes, that burden often falls on Northern Border communities to prosecute them under state law.  Whatcom County, for instance, estimates that it spends approximately $2 million dollars from its general fund every year towards processing border-related criminal cases.

“Northern Border communities bear an unfair burden for keeping us all safe,” said Senator Murray. “From prosecuting drug traffickers to jailing fugitives, Northern Border communities must spend a larger percentage of their limited funds for law enforcement costs, which reduces the amount available for other priorities. 

“Protecting our borders is a federal responsibility.  At a time when local budgets are tapped and law enforcement jobs are on the line, we need to ensure that the federal government is stepping up to support Northern Border communities.” 

"The security of the Northern Border is extremely important to the safety of citizens in the State of Washington,” said Whatcom County Prosecutor David S. McEachran. “Federal dollars under this bill will allow us to arrest and prosecute people who are smuggling drugs and contraband into our State and Country. This Bill will give us the tools to effectively deal with this major problem."

The NBPI builds off of Senator Murray’s previous support of Whatcom County’s “Fast Track” system to reduce prosecutorial backlogs and reimburse northern border communities for some of their law enforcement expenses. The NBPI also mirrors a program that has been in existence for the Southwest Border and provides funds through a formula grant. 

Senator Murray worked to create the NBPI in 2007, but the Bush Administration did not release funding to local governments.  Senator Murray has already spoken with Attorney General Eric Holder to urge him to implement the NBPI as quickly as possible. 

 The Omnibus Appropriations Bill provides funding for most federal government programs and targeted community projects for Fiscal Year 2009. The Omnibus bill is separate from the Economic Recovery bill passed by Congress and enacted by Barack Obama last week. 

The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund projects for the remainder of the 2009 Fiscal Year which runs until September 30th, 2009. The federal government is currently operating under spending levels passed for Fiscal Year 2008 because President Bush refused to sign many 2009 spending bills last year and Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill is expected to be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the coming weeks. The funding levels included in this bill represent what will be sent to the President if the bill is approved by Congress.