News Releases

Senator Murray and Colleagues Call on President Bush to Reject Proposed Cuts to Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Dec 18 2007

Washington State emergency managers, Port of Seattle echo importance of homeland security funding

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was joined by a group of twenty-five Senators to call on President Bush to reject proposed funding cuts to homeland security programs in next year's budget. The letter comes after a recent document from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicated that the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget will slash funds for domestic homeland security and eliminate grant programs that benefit port security, transit security and emergency management.  - Details

Senator Murray has long worked to increase port security, law enforcement, and emergency responder funding. She is also the co-author of the landmark SAFE Port Act which authorized $400 million for port security grants.

"Unfortunately, real security does not come cheap and cannot be achieved with mere words of support," Murray and the other Senators wrote in the letter. "At a time when this Administration asks for hundreds of billions of dollars to conduct its war in Iraq, it should also provide adequate support to protect Americans here at home and reject these misguided cuts to vital homeland security programs."

In Washington state, because of a trade-reliant economy and large ports in Seattle and Tacoma, port security grants and funding are particularly important.

“As handlers of the vast majority of this country’s international trade, Ports are on the front line against terrorism," said Tay Yoshitani, CEO of the Port of Seattle. "In order to protect against acts that would disrupt shipping, wreak havoc on our economy and harm our citizens, it is critical that Ports receive federal security grant funds to ensure the safety of our citizens and facilities.  The safe and efficient flow of goods through our nation’s ports is essential to the US economy. We applaud Senator Murray and her continuing effort to ensure that seaports and communities throughout this nation are secure from acts of terrorism."

In light of recent natural disasters funding for emergency managers is also critical to Washington state.

"The State of Washington is suffering through our third Presidential Disaster Declaration in the last two years. Cuts to critical federal funding programs such as the Emergency Management Performance Grants will only make it more difficult to respond and recover from these kinds of emergency events," said Steven C. Bailey, Director of Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and President of the Washington State Emergency Management Association.

The text of the letter the Senators sent to President Bush follows:

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December 18, 2007 

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500 

Dear Mr. President: 

As you prepare your Fiscal Year 2009 Budget to Congress, we write to express our concern about reported cuts to important homeland security grant programs.  Specifically, a November 26 document from the Office of Management and Budget indicates that the FY09 Budget will slash funds for domestic homeland security and eliminate grant programs that benefit port security, transit security and emergency management. 

The Port Security Grant Program funds security improvements at our nation’s ports.  These grants are awarded through a competitive, risk-based process to address critical vulnerabilities, conduct training and exercises, and develop the ability of our ports to be full security partners with federal, state and local agencies.  Our ports are hubs of our nation’s economy but remain a vulnerable presence in many communities.  As you know, the SAFE Port Act signed into law October 2006 authorized $400 million for port security grants.   

The Transit Security Grant Program helps secure high-risk/high-consequence transit, provide a deterrent presence, train key security personnel, and conduct public awareness campaigns.  The bombings of commuter trains in Madrid and the transit system in London demonstrate that mass transit continues to be a prime target for terrorist attack.  Millions of Americans use mass transit every day, and we should continue to provide the funds to keep them safe.  As you know, transit security grants were authorized in the 9/11 Recommendations bill signed into law August 2007.   

The Emergency Performance Management Grant Program allows our communities to develop emergency management plans to respond to a disaster.  Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the California wildfires, and the recent storms in the Pacific Northwest highlight the critical importance of effective, pre-incident disaster planning in all of our communities.  These emergency response plans are developed at the local level, by local officials who are most familiar with the capabilities and needs of their communities.  As you know, the Emergency Performance Management Grant Program was authorized in the 9/11 Recommendations bill. 

These homeland security programs were all authorized by legislation this Administration supported and signed into law.  Unfortunately, real security does not come cheap and cannot be achieved with mere words of support.  At a time when this Administration asks for hundreds of billions of dollars to conduct its war in Iraq, it should also provide adequate support to protect Americans here at home and reject these misguided cuts to vital homeland security programs.   

The Senators who joined Senator Murray on to the letter included: Senators Biden (D-DE), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Cardin D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Harkin (D-IA), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MI), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI), Menendez (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Stabenow (D-MI), Schumer (D-NY), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).