July 31, 2007 - MA DELEGATION URGES HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY TO RE-EVALUATE STATE’S NEEDS

Members Seek Justification of Funding Cuts to Boston Area and State

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation and a senior Democratic member of the Homeland Security Committee, today released a letter, signed by the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting a full explanation of the decreased homeland security funds the state is receiving this year. On July 18th, DHS announced that Massachusetts will receive approximately $7 million less in homeland security grants for first responders this fiscal year. In addition, DHS has ranked the Boston area at their secondary “Tier 2” risk level despite its sizable population, extensive transportation infrastructure and critical assets that require enhanced security.

Representative Edward J. Markey (MA-07), who organized the letter, said, “Boston is key to the economic vitality of Massachusetts and the entire New England region. Our busy cargo port drives commercial activities not only around the state and region, but also around the world. Our port is also home to the nation’s only urban liquefied natural gas (LNG) importation terminal, which presents special security risks and costs. I am extremely disappointed that the Department has excluded Boston from its list of top tier urban areas receiving supplemental security funding, and the letter we are sending today seeks an explanation and a re-evaluation of the Department’s decision-making process so that Massachusetts receives the level of funding it needs.”

“The Department’s decision to cut homeland security assistance to Massachusetts makes no sense when you consider the unique risks we face, and the people of Massachusetts deserve an explanation,” Senator Edward M. Kennedy said.

“It is unacceptable that DHS has again cut counterterrorism funding for Boston and slashed aid statewide for law enforcement. Our communities depend on this funding to train and equip thousands of first responders and enhance security. I’m especially concerned that DHS continues to leave Boston off its list of top-tier cities that are at risk – cities like New York and Washington – that is uses to distribute funding, and that is why I’ve introduced an amendment requiring the GAO to investigate how risk assessments are made. DHS needs to wake up and inject some common sense into its decision making process. I promise to continue working with my colleagues to get to the bottom of the Department’s classification process and do all I can to make sure Massachusetts isn’t shortchanged again,” said Senator John Kerry.

Representative Stephen Lynch (MA-09), member of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said, “Lowering the security profile for the Greater Boston area and slashing homeland security funding for Massachusetts is an attack on common sense. Look, we've had terrorists come off LNG tankers through the Port of Boston; we've had two of the planes used in the terrorist attacks on September 11th emanate from Logan Airport; we have a major commercial port that annually sees over 1,800 vessel calls and handles over 15 million tons of cargo that is transported through densely settled residential communities - a situation that our experience confirms is a high risk terrorist target – this is more than a 'gut feeling.' We call on Secretary Chertoff to re-examine the evidence and immediately correct this serious lapse in judgment.”

The members’ letter was signed by Sens. Kennedy and Kerry and Reps. Markey, Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tierney, Capuano, Lynch and Delahunt.

Click here to view letter

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2007

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836