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Hearing Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology of the Committee on Homeland Security:The Proposed Fiscal Year 2006 Budget

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Location: Washington, DC


Hearing Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology of the Committee on Homeland Security:The Proposed Fiscal Year 2006 Budget

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Chairman King. [Presiding.] The Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology will come to order.

The subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony on the Department of Homeland Security's proposed fiscal year 2006
budget relating to enhancing preparedness for first responders.

The Chair recognizes himself for 5 minutes.

Good morning. First, let me welcome our distinguished witnesses. We certainly appreciate their appearance before us
today. As the Chairman of the subcommittee, it is my pleasure to convene this morning's hearing on President Bush's fiscal
year 2006 budget plans for the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness and the Science and
Technology Directorate with respect to enhancing terrorism preparedness for first responders.

It is important to note that this hearing is the very first to be held by any subcommittee of the newly established Committee on Homeland Security. Congress's establishment of a permanent standing homeland security committee is a victory for the American public and for our nation. This morning's hearing is testament to that very fact. I want to thank Chairman Cox
publicly for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chairman of this vitally important subcommittee. I am certainly looking
forward to continuing my close working relationship with the Chairman.

Also, I must note that it is to me a great privilege to have as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee my good friend
from New Jersey, Bill Pascrell. Bill and I have worked together on many issues, and I have absolutely no doubt that we are
going to forge a very solid working relationship. Obviously, my door will always be open to him, and I am sure that his will
also be. I just want Bill to know that I look forward to this opportunity over the next 2 years.

Also, I must say that I am a New Yorker. Like many New Yorkers, I lost many friends and neighbors on September 11. A
number of them were firefighters and police officers. If we have learned one thing from that fateful day, it is that the federal government must support first responders because they are literally on the frontlines of this terrible international war against terror.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology, I intend to be active in reforming the first responder grant process. I intend to be active in ensuring that our nation invests in the necessary research, development and transfer of homeland security technology to states, territories and local governments. I intend to be active in guaranteeing that the federal government can effectively respond to acts of terrorism and other catastrophic emergencies.

The purpose of this hearing is to review the administration's proposed budget request for fiscal year 2006 and its impact on the preparedness of our nation's first responders. The hearing also will examine the evolving relationship between the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, and the Science and Technology Directorate. I know that some of my colleagues on the other side will in good faith point out that the administration's budget request for fiscal year 2006 does decrease spending on first responders from fiscal year 2005 enacted levels. This is a debate which I think can be healthy. We can discuss it in full, certainly as this hearing goes forward and throughout the year.

I believe, however, that a slightly lower level of spending should not be equated with a lack of commitment to first responders, particularly since the Budget actually authorizes more than was actually spent in the past fiscal year. Indeed,
no other administration in the history of our great country has requested more funds for first responders. Since September 11,
2001, the administration and the Congress have made an enormous investment, over $28 billion, in state and local preparedness programs. Much of this funding, however, remains unspent. For fiscal year 2004, for example, states and local governments have spent only $310 million out of the $2.9 billion appropriated for the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Area Security Initiative. The absence of clear preparedness guidelines has led to some questionable uses of
terrorism preparedness grants by states and by local governments.

Rather than merely increasing funding, the administration-proposed budget attempts to resolve such problems by
fundamentally reforming the grantmaking system. With the reforms contained in the Faster and Smarter Funding for First
Responders Act, which Chairman Cox championed in the 108th Congress, the administration intends to allocate the vast
majority of federal terrorism preparedness grants on the basis of risk and to ensure that states and local governments use
such funding to achieve minimum baseline levels of preparedness in accordance with the national preparedness goal of Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-8.

With respect to the budget request for science and technology, the administration intends to consolidate the Department's various research, development, testing, and evaluation activities into the Science and Technology Directorate. Such a consolidation will create significant efficiencies which will benefit our nation's first responders. The budget request also increases funding for S&T Directorate activities designed to support other directorates and offices, such as the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate and the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness.

I look forward to the testimony of Secretary Albright, Acting Executive Director Mayer, and General Reimer. Now, I
recognize the gentleman from New Jersey.

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