News Releases

Murray Decries Bush Cuts to Emergency Preparedness Grants, Vows to Restore Critical Funding

Feb 05 2008

After three major disasters in the last two years, Washington emergency managers say funding is more important then ever

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined with Washington state emergency managers to protest President Bush's under-funding of critical emergency preparedness grants. In the President's Fiscal Year 2009 budget, Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) are funded at $200 million – a cut of $100 million from last year's funding level. 

"These deep cuts mean that the President is willing to take chances when disaster strikes," said Senator Murray. "These grants help prepare the men and women who step-up when terrorism strikes, when our homes and roads are flooded, and when our communities are shaken. A budget is a statement of priorities and this budget tells our brave local responders that they don't deserve our full support. At a time when our state is still reeling from disaster, we can't afford to let the President short change this critical preparedness tool. I will fight to restore funding for our emergency responders."

"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 EMPG is used to support emergency management personnel, natural disaster planning, training & drills, mass evacuation planning and population sheltering, public information and disaster education, warning systems, and emergency operations centers during disaster response.  These grants are particularly important to smaller, rural communities who might not be able to afford an emergency manager and pay for training and exercises without them.  

For example, Grays Harbor used funds it received from EMPG and state homeland security grants to conduct a tsunami disaster exercise late last year. That exercise brought together communications professionals, health professionals, and emergency responders to plan a response to a massive flooding emergency. In early December, the lessons, training, and planning that exercise yielded helped aid the response to the flooding that swept through Gray Harbor County.  - Details 

"As we have seen recently, natural disaster can often ravage our small, rural communities that can't afford emergency management funding on their own," said Senator Murray. "It's the federal government's responsibility to provide a safety net for these communities. I'll fight to ensure that from Grays Harbor to Garfield our rural communities have access to the funding that keeps their citizens safe."

In a letter to President Bush on December 18th 2007, Senator Murray warned against cutting emergency responder and homeland security grants.