Biden calls for homeland security trust fund

Congress should set aside $53.3 billion over five years in a Homeland Security trust fund to fully implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., recommended Monday.

Biden, who will chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee starting in January, said in a statement that he intends to introduce legislation to create the fund. The financing would be made available for homeland security through a partial rollback of the tax cuts enacted by Congress in 2001 and 2003.

The independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued 41 recommendations for national security in its final report in July 2004, including advice to DHS to improve incident command, cargo screening, intelligence, information-sharing and private-sector preparedness. The Public Discourse Project issued a report card in December 2005 on progress toward achieving the goals.

The proposed $53 billion in funding would cover the cost of hiring 50,000 new police officers and 1,000 FBI agents; require 100 percent cargo container screening at our nation's sea ports and ensure first responder interoperable communications by implementing technical standards and providing new equipment to response agencies, Biden said.

In addition, Biden said the money would go toward spurring research, development and deployment of new screening technologies at airports and seaports, as well as for improving the public health system's ability to respond to biological, chemical, radiological attacks or pandemics.

"In November, Americans cast their votes for a new direction on national security," said Biden. "We should create a dedicated Homeland Security Trust Fund to ensure that we make the grade on homeland security without going in the red. I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues to make this a priority in the new Congress."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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