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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight on the Fiscal Year 2006 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill:
“There are many good provisions in this conference report, and I intend to support it.
“I am pleased, for example, with the $110 million appropriated for the SAFER program – and was proud to have worked with Congressmen Weldon and Sabo on an amendment to provide additional safer funding.
“The president’s budget zeroed out this program of hiring grants, which help achieve adequate staffing levels and improve the safety of our firefighters and communities.
“I also am pleased that the conference agreement contains $545 million for the Fire grant program – representing an increase of $45 million over the president’s request.
“Nonetheless, even this funding level is $100 million below last year’s level.
“The Fire grant program is authorized at one billion dollars, and we must work to increase – not decrease – funding that ensures that firefighters have modern equipment and advanced training.
“However, none of us should delude ourselves.
“This Republican Congress is simply not doing enough to address our unmet homeland security needs.
“The inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina – almost four years to the day after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – has only heightened concern about this nation’s ability to respond to another catastrophe.
“Democrats would meet our first responder needs. Yet, this conference report cuts three of the four first responder grant programs.
“Democrats would meet our needs for port security. Yet, with this conference report, we have funded only 12 percent of the amount needed for ports to comply with the Maritime Transportation Security Act.
“Democrats would meet our needs for rail and transit security. Yet, while an estimated $6 billion is needed to improve rail and transit security, this conference report provides only $150 million for fiscal 2006.
“This Republican Congress – despite its proclamations otherwise – simply is not addressing our homeland security priorities.
“I intend to support this conference report. But its flaws ought to give all of us pause.”