Obama Initiative Would Greatly Increase Risk Based Homeland Security Funding
U.S. Senator Barack Obama today sponsored an initiative recommended by the 9/11 Commission that would increase the amount of homeland security funding that is allocated based on risk, instead of shared equally between states. The 9/11 Commission Report states: . . . "Federal homeland security assistance should not remain a program for general revenue sharing. It should supplement state and local resources based on the risks or vulnerabilities that merit additional support" [p. 396].
"Five long years after 9/11, homeland security funding is still being treated as a pork barrel," said Senator Obama. "States that face the greatest threats should receive the most funding, to secure their infrastructure and prepare their first responders. A flea market on a roadside and a metropolitan transit system do not carry the same risks, and they should not be treated equally. To honor the victims and to arm ourselves to prevent another attack, states must demonstrate risks and vulnerabilities to receive significant funding."
The Obama amendment to the homeland security bill would decrease the current minimum funding each state receives under the State Homeland Security Grant program to .25 percent, with an increase to .45 percent for border states - a proposal consistent with the House version of the bill. S. 4 currently proposes that all states receive a minimum of .45 percent of the state homeland security grants. Currently, the state minimum is .75 percent, consuming approximately 40 percent of the program's funds.
Former 9/11 Commissioners Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer wrote letters in support of Senator Obama's amendment. Referring to the Commission's Report Card on progress since 9/11, Roemer said: "On homeland security, the government received an F because too many of our vulnerabilities received too few resources. We cannot afford to waste any more money, time, or effort . . . I commend these efforts to move the Senate in a better direction and believe this amendment creates the opportunity for the full spirit of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations to be realized in conference with the House."
Hamilton wrote: "Resources for homeland security are not unlimited, so it is thus essential that they be distributed based upon a careful analysis of the risk, vulnerability, and potential consequences of a terrorist attack. Adopting such a risk-based approach would make the best use of our homeland security resources, and would make the American people safer."