Funding Necessary to Enable First Responders to React to Terrorist Attacks
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47), senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, spoke on the House floor today and expressed grave concerns to proposed cuts to critical homeland security grants contained in the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. House Republicans have limited critical Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grants to only the top ten at-risk urban areas, such as New York and Los Angeles, as opposed to expanding those grants to other urban areas, as in years past. This means Orange County, California, which is home to Disneyland, numerous sports and convention venues, federal and state offices, a nuclear facility and several beaches and harbors which are often subject to security concerns, will not receive important UASI grants that help local law enforcement in urban areas prepare for disasters or terrorist attack.
Last month Congresswoman Sanchez announced that Orange County would be receiving $8.9 million in UASI funding from the current year’s budget allocation, a reduction of about $ million from the prior year.
Below are Rep. Sanchez’ remarks as prepared for delivery.
I rise today with great worry for the safety of our country.
Today we will consider this rule and the FY 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill later today that will severely hamper the homeland security of many, many municipalities.
Specifically, the Majority has once again shown where their priorities are by taking away from those who are struggling the most, our local police and fire departments.
Cutting 60 percent of first responder grants, including state and local grants and firefighter assistance grants, will not only halt the progress our municipalities have been able to accomplish, but will continue to put strain on their resources!
Also, what is more troubling is limiting the number of Urban Area Security Initiatives to just the “top ten” areas.
That would cut out funding for cities that represent key tourist destinations, such as Las Vegas, Orlando and my hometown of Anaheim- home of Disneyland.
In fact, with the risk of retaliation by the killing of Osama bin Laden at an all time high, we cannot afford to be less vigilant, less prepared and less secure.
To combat such threats, we must ensure those on the domestic front lines such as first-responders and local police are equipped and ready to meet the special demands of preventing and responding to terrorist threats.
Local law enforcement are the “eyes and ears” of our community and they must be equipped, trained and ready at all times to respond.
I am glad to support the amendment later this evening that would strike the provision limiting UASI funding to just the “top ten” riskiest cities, which is being offered by my good friend Rep. Brian Higgins.
We face difficult economic choices as a nation, but we must never allow our first responders and local law enforcement to be used as bargaining chips in the current budget battle.
Homeland security must always remain a top priority and it is important that we do not cut programs crucial to the security of our communities.”
Sanchez Appointed Co-Chair Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue
In other news from Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Sanchez has been appointed by House Democratic Leadership to serve as co-chair of the prestigious Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD). The TLD program seeks to strengthen and enhance political discourse through bi-annual meetings between European and American legislators. Congresswoman Sanchez was selected to serve by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Ranking Member Howard Berman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“I am honored to be chosen by Leader Pelosi and Ranking Member Berman to serve as co-chair of such an esteemed program as the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue,” said Sanchez. “The relationship between the United States and the European Union is among the most vital and time-tested partnerships in the world. Cooperation between our legislative bodies has never been so important. We must continue to strengthen this relationship and build a harmonized approach to issues of common concern to our great nations. I look forward to working with my fellow co-chair, Congressman Cliff Stearns, to achieve this goal in a bipartisan capacity.”
“Congresswoman Sanchez has long been a leader on international issues and her credibility has won her the respect of legislators both here and abroad,” said Leader Pelosi. “I’ve asked her to serve as co-chair of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue because I’m confident she will bring a solid understanding of the issues and passion to our efforts to strengthen this crucial partnership between Congress and its European counterparts.”
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is proud to represent California’s 47th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and parts of Fullerton in Orange County. She serves as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security. Rep. Sanchez is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and sits on the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Economic Committee.