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WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray has included $30 million for Operation Safe Commerce in the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee spending bill, bringing the federal commitment to the container and port security initiative to $88 million. The bill was passed out of the subcommittee this morning, and will be approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday.



Murray developed the program last year to help monitor and track container cargo at the nation’s three largest seaports – Seattle/Tacoma, Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey – and Murray won Congressional passage of $58 million for the program in two previous spending bills.



Today’s bill would also expand the scope of OSC beyond the initial three container load centers.



“Washington state and the nation will be safer because of Operation Safe Commerce,” Senator Murray said. “Today the Senate is providing even more support to make certain that security at our ports is a top national priority. This bill will help us to protect more Americans and keep commerce moving through our nation’s ports.”



Last month, Murray won a battle with the Bush Administration over funding for Operation Safe Commerce. After Congress approved – and the President signed into law – $58 million for Operation Safe Commerce, the Administration threatened to “reprogram” $28 million from the container security initiative and spend it elsewhere. But after Sen. Murray took the extraordinary step of placing a “hold” on a senior Administration budget nominee, the White House abandoned its plan to divert nearly half of the $58 million that Congress had approved for the port security initiative.



“I’m concerned that the Administration’s past reluctance to fund Operation Safe Commerce in a timely way has placed us behind the curve in terms of port security,” Murray said today. “I hope we can all work together in the days ahead to do a better job for our families, our communities and our nation.”



The Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill also included $150 million for Port Security Grants, to enable ports to improve their infrastructure. The Bush Administration, for the second year, requested no funding for these critical grants, and the House of Representatives Homeland Security bill included only $100 million.