Success in the Fight to Save Terrorism and Disaster Response Program

WASHINGTON, DC - Representative Edward 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 agreed to include his provision calling for an authorization of $60 million in funding for the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS). The MMRS program, which had been slated for elimination in the Bush Administration’s budget submitted to Congress earlier this year, 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.

“I am pleased that the Homeland Security Committee has decided to include my provision for $60 million for this unique and vital homeland security program that is urgently needed, it is especially important given the potential for an outbreak of avian flu, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction in our country,” Rep. Markey said. 

President Bush’s FY07 budget request eliminated funding for the MMRS program, which has provided $5.2 million in funding for emergency personnel in Boston, Springfield and Worcester.  Rep. Markey has led the effort to save the program, organizing a letter to the Homeland Security Appropriations Committee co-signed by 55 Members of Congress to urge $60 million in funding for the MMRS program. Last year when the Bush Administration also proposed the elimination of the program, Rep. Markey successfully coordinated the effort to preserve funding for the program.

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 concluded, “I am proud to stand with first responders from around the nation and with many of my colleagues in Congress in making the case that the MMRS program must be preserved. One of the lessons of the past year was the need to be prepared for disasters, whether they are natural or man-made.  I am pleased that the Homeland Security Committee has authorized $60 million in funding and encouraged the Appropriations Committee to fund the MMRS program at the same level.  Given the dangerous ‘Preparedness Gap’ facing our country, now is not the time to short-change our nation’s preparedness programs.”

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

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2006

 CONTACT: Tara McGuinness
Mark Bayer
202.225.2836