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Senator Murray Takes Port Security Fight to Senate Budget Committee, But Partisan Vote Spells Trouble for Ports & Local Communities

Mar 04 2004

Murray fights Republican Plan to Cut Port Security Grants by 63 percent; Offers Amendment to Boost Port Security Grants by $454 million

(Washington, D.C.) -- Troubled by the President’s failure to fund port security in his new budget and by a Republican budget resolution that would cut port security grants by 63 percent, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) today offered an amendment to the Senate’s budget proposal to increase port security grants by $454 million for Fiscal Year 2005.

Murray’s amendment would bring the total port security grant funding up to $500 million and would go a long way to addressing the $1 billion in security needs ports have identified.

But on a party-line, 10-12 vote, the Senate Budget Committee rejected Murray’s amendment, once again sticking local communities with unfunded security mandates at a time when they are facing tight budgets.

“Port security is a national priority, but this White House and Congress continue to push massive bills onto our local ports and communities,” Senator Murray said. “Last month, the President offered a budget that would kill Operation Safe Commerce and fail to meet the Coast Guard’s growing security needs. Today, Republican Senators stood by their plan to cut port security grants by 63 percent and leave our communities holding the bag.”

In the last fiscal year (FY 2003), ports nationwide requested $1 billion in port security grants from the Department of Homeland Security. So far, Congress has only authorized $275 million in Port Security Grants ($150 million in FY 2003 and $125 million in FY 2004). Murray’s amendment would have narrowed the funding gap and closed known security vulnerabilities at America’s ports.

Local communities are also under federal pressure to meet the expensive requirement of the new Maritime Transportation Security Act, which requires ports to develop security plans. Those plans are paid for through the same port security grant that the White House and Congressional Majority are trying to cut.

Although Murray’s amendment failed in the Senate Budget Committee, it is only the beginning of the budget process in the Senate, and Murray will use her positions on the Budget and Appropriations Committees to push for the funding needed to secure America’s ports and protect our communities.

Bush / Republican Plan Will Cut Port Security Grants by 63 Percent

BUDGET YEAR FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005 (Proposal)
Bush Budget/
Republican Plan
FY 2005 (Proposal)
Murray Amendment
FUNDING $150 million $124 million $46 million ( 63% cut ) $500 million