March 28, 2007 - HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE AUTHORIZES $63 MILLION FOR TERRORISM AND DISASTER RESPONSE PROGRAM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today announced that the Homeland Security Committee has authorized $63 million in funding for the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) per year for fiscal years 2008 through 2011.  The MMRS program is the only federal program that helps first responders, medical personnel, emergency management workers, businesses and other stakeholders develop effective, integrated capabilities to minimize casualties in the event of a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction, a public health crisis such as a pandemic flu or a natural disaster such as a hurricane.

Rep. Markey said, “Despite the Bush Administration’s repeated efforts to eliminate this unique and effective program, Congress has wisely and consistently appropriated funds for MMRS over the years, providing $33 million for the program this year.  While preservation of the MMRS program is paramount, new duties and responsibilities assigned to MMRS – such as response to an avian flu pandemic – require additional funding.  That is why I worked to ensure that this authorization bill contains $63 million per year for Fiscal Years 2008 through 2011.”

MMRS was established in the wake of the deadly release of sarin nerve gas in a Tokyo subway and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The program provides funds to 125 municipal authorities in 43 states for local first responder planning, training, exercises, equipment, and pharmaceutical caches. MMRS is designed to enhance local capabilities for coordinating local fire, police, hospital, and public health agencies in the event of terrorist WMD attack, including nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons.

Rep. Markey continued, “As demonstrated by the Bush Administration’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina, our country has a dangerous ‘Preparedness Gap.’  In the post 9/11 era, there can be no doubt that Al Qaeda is willing and capable of launching attacks on the United States.  Moreover, the ongoing potential for severe hurricanes and flooding remind us of the urgent need to be prepared to respond in an organized, effective way to all hazards.  The MMRS program is an essential part of our preparedness capability.”

“Our MMRS personnel across the nation are hometown heroes.  But even heroes need help.  We will need to continue working to ensure that the Appropriations Committee follows the lead of this Committee and provides $63 million for MMRS in the Department’s appropriations bill,” Rep. Markey concluded.

Additional information on the MMRS program is available at Rep. Markey’s website, http://www.house.gov/markey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2007

CONTACT: Will Huntington
David Moulton
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