Sometimes one hopes to be wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to the FY 2012 homeland security budget, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has proven me right insofar as the FY 2011 budget was the just beginning for cuts to state and local homeland security programs. While the Senate bill is an improvement over the House bill when it comes to state and local homeland security grants, that’s barely a compliment and more the equivalent to being named the world’s tallest Hobbit. You’re still very short.
The Senate bill provides $2.58 billion for state and local grants, $557 million above the FY 2012 House level and $525 million below the final FY 2011 budget. However, the 2012 Senate amount will actually be even less as it does not account for management and administration funding that FEMA will take off the top of this appropriation to pay FEMA staff and run the programs. For example, in FY 2011, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program was appropriated $706 million but only $663 million was actually awarded by FEMA to urban areas, which amounted to an additional 6% cut in available funding. The bill wisely rejects the House proposal to eliminate the Urban Area Security Initiative, Transit Security Grants and other programs and replace them with a block grant.
The Bill Summary
The State Homeland Security Grant Program receives $380 million. This is a $146 million cut from FY 2011.
Operation Stonegarden receives $50 million. This is a $5 million cut.
The Urban Area Security Initiative receives $400 million. This is a $306 million or 43% cut from FY 2011, and if approved by the full Congress would result in UASI being cut by more than 50% in two years, down from $887 million in FY 2010.
The Emergency Operations Center grant is funded at $15 million (no cut).
The Port Security Grant Program receives $200 million. This is a $50 million cut from FY 2011.
Transit Security Grant Program receives $200 million. This is a $50 million cut from FY 2011.
The bill provides $750 million for fire equipment and firefighter hiring. This is a $60 million cut from FY 2011.
Finally, the bill provides $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants, $11 million above the FY 2011 level.
No specific funding is provided for Citizens Corps, Driver’s License Security, Buffer Zone Protection Program, Metropolitan Medical Response System and Interoperable Emergency Communications grants. Activities previously funded under these programs are eligible in the funded programs.
While not a surety, the bill’s funding of UASI at $400 million sets the stage for all 20 tier II urban areas to be dropped from the UASI program in 2012. This will depend on whether DHS uses the same blunt force trauma approach to allocate funding in 2012 as it did in 2011. Recall in 2011, when UASI suffered an 18% cut, DHS cut the program’s membership in half by removing 32 urban areas from it so as to hold harmless all 11 tier I urban areas in funding.
While it is mathematically impossible for all tier I urban areas to be spared cuts in 2012, to just minimize the cuts to those tier I urban areas DHS will have to take all tier II funding, which was $122 million or 18.6% of funding in 2011, and give that money to all 11 tier I urban areas. The bottom line is every urban area from New York to Charlotte is likely to see cuts or outright termination of funding in FY 2012 if these budget numbers remain unchanged.
What Happens Next?
What the Senate subcommittee did yesterday is not the final word. In fact, the funding numbers the subcommittee released could actually be the high water mark in state and local homeland security funding because the Senate must reconcile its budget with the House and the House was lower in grant funding by $557 million. Yes, things can get worse for these programs in the absence of aggressive outreach and education to members of Congress on what these cuts will do state and local homeland security preparedness.
In the meantime, the full Senate Appropriations Committee must take up the bill and then the Senate as a whole before it goes into conference or some alternative before final passage. That leaves some, albeit little time to reverse this action. In the absence of a reversal, expect 2013 to be the last year many of these programs exist. For in FY 2012, five programs have already been slated for termination by both the House and Senate.
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What can be said about the 9/11 anniversary that hasn’t already been spoken? It seems every television channel imaginable has a 9/11 special or series leading up to the 10-year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in recorded history. From the perspective of one who witnessed the attacks first hand and helped build
the homeland security infrastructure of today, much has changed since that day and yet much remains the same.
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What can be said about the 9/11 anniversary that hasn’t already been spoken? It seems every television channel imaginable has a 9/11 special or series leading up to the 10-year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in recorded history. From the perspective of one who witnessed the attacks first hand and helped build the homeland security infrastructure of today, much has changed since that day and yet much remains the same.
Leave a comment
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