Murray Wins Battle Over Port Security Funding

Jun 11 2003

Bush Administration retreats from plan to raid container security funding

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In a letter to Senator Murray, the Bush Administration today abandoned its plan to divert nearly half of the funding Congress had approved for a port security initiative.

“Operation Safe Commerce” is an initiative Sen. Patty Murray developed last year to help monitor and track container cargo at the nation’s three largest seaports.

Congress approved – and the President signed – $58 million for the program. But last month, the Bush Administration said it would “reprogram” $28 million from the container security initiative and spend it elsewhere.

Murray immediately wrote to Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, saying, “I have no intention of quietly watching your agency divert funds that are critically needed to ensure the security of our trade lanes in order to make up for the Administration’s irresponsible actions in this area.” (Read Murray's letter)

Murray was forced to take the extraordinary step of placing a “hold” on an Administration budget nominee to protest the Administration’s attempt to shortchange port security.

Today, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge sent a letter to Murray saying “the Department of Homeland Security will obligate, in the near future, the entire $58 million in appropriated funds for the ‘Operation Safe Commerce’ port security initiative.” (Read Ridge's letter)

“This was about standing up for my state to make sure our ports are secure,” said Murray. “It is unfortunate that I had to take such a strong measure to make my point, but I am pleased that the Administration has come around. I will continue to stand up and fight to make America’s ports safer today and in the future.”

Upon receiving the letter from Secretary Ridge, Murray tonight released her hold on the nomination of Clay Johnson to become Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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