Lieberman calls for $3.4B to boost first response

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee proposed Monday to add $3.4 billion above the White House's budget to bolster first responder programs in the Homeland Security Department for fiscal 2008.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an Independent who caucuses with the Democratic party, said he wants to add $479 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative, which provides counterterrorism funding to major cities, bringing the total to $1.2 billion.

Other sharp increases Lieberman calls for are:
  • $913 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program
  • $913 million for the Emergency Management Preparedness Grants
  • $777 million for firefighters
  • $400 million for interoperable communications

President Bush's proposed budget does not provide enough support for state and local agencies for training, equipment and planning, Lieberman said. The president's budget proposal keeps up with the rate of inflation, Lieberman wrote in a news release, but provides no substantial increase.

"This is the fourth straight year that the administration has proposed significant reductions in homeland security funds for first responders," Lieberman said. "If the President's budget were enacted, overall grant funding would be cut by a staggering 40 percent since FY 2004 ? seriously limiting the ability of state and local officials to protect their communities against the ever-present threats of terrorism and natural disasters."

Lieberman criticized DHS for publicizing a new $1 billion grant program for interoperable communications, funded by the Federal Communications Commission's auctioning of radio spectrum as an offset for reductions in the DHS budget request. Those funds were not intended to replace overall grant assistance, Lieberman said.

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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