Rep. Markey and Massachusetts House Delegation Urge Chertoff to Explain 30% Drop in Homeland Security Funds to Boston

Last Week the Department of Homeland Security Announced a New Formula to Distribute Urban Area Security Grants, Cutting Real Dollars to Boston by about 30%, While Increasing Funds to Other Lower Threat Areas

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Ed Markey (D-Malden), a senior Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, was joined by the entire Massachusetts House delegation in writing a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff urging him to explain why Boston will be getting 30% less in urban area homeland security grant money this fiscal year.  The members, who have repeatedly called on DHS to increase funding for Boston, which is considered a high-threat urban area, and Rep. Markey in particular have fought for higher funding to expand cargo scanning and other technology to boost security efforts.  While other major cities like New York were also shortchanged in this year’s grant funding, some areas such as Louisville, Kentucky and Omaha, Nebraska received a big boost in grant money.

Rep. Markey said, “Since September 11, there are few places that are as inviting a terrorist target as Boston.  Fewer than five years after those two planes took off from Logan Airport and struck the World Trade Center, we are astonished that the Department of Homeland Security would reduce homeland security funds to Boston.”

“We are hoping to quickly get some real answers from the Department of Homeland Security, because it is completely inexplicable that funds to high threat areas like Boston would be so drastically reduced in one fell swoop,” Markey continued.

The delegation letter to Chertoff is available here and below:

The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

    We request a full explanation of the Department's grant funding allocation decisions for the Fiscal Year 2006 round of Homeland Security Grant Programs for Massachusetts.  We recognize that most of these programs suffered funding cuts in 2006 as compared to what was provided in 2005. Nevertheless, we are particularly concerned about the severe cut in funding for Massachusetts’ share of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants, which was reduced by approximately 30 percent, more than double the 14 percent cut in the total funding allocated to the UASI program in 2006.

    According to the Fiscal Year 2005 DHS Homeland Security Grant Program Guidelines and Application kit[1], the UASI program “provides financial assistance to address the unique planning, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high risk urban areas, and to assist them in building an enhanced and sustainable capacity to prevent, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism.”  Clearly, Massachusetts is a high-risk urban area: We need not remind you that two of the planes involved in the 9/11 attacks took off from Logan airport, some of the 9/11 terrorists spent time residing in Massachusetts prior to the attacks, and at least one of the Millennium bombers entered the U.S. after being smuggled to Boston on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker.  Moreover, Boston and the surrounding areas are home to critical infrastructure, including a busy port, and the only LNG importation terminal sited in an urban area.

    We quite simply do not understand how a part of the country that has a high population density and considerable critical infrastructure that has also been targeted by terrorists would receive such a disproportionate cut to a vital homeland security program. We request a detailed written explanation of how DHS arrived at its funding allocation decisions for Massachusetts’ share of these programs.  Please provide your response in unclassified form (with a classified annex if necessary) no later than close of business on Friday June 30, 2006.  If you have any questions or concerns, please have your staff contact Mark Bayer or Michal Freedhoff at 202-225-2836 in Rep. Markey’s office.

Sincerely,

 The Massachusetts House Delegation
(Markey, Frank, Lynch, Capuano, Neal, Olver, McGovern, Meehan, Tierney, and Delahunt)

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For Immediate Release
June 7, 2006


 CONTACT: Israel Klein
202.225.2836