Transportation Security Administration
As evidenced by the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 and the May 1, 2009, Times Square bombing attempt, terrorists and terrorist groups remain determined to harm Americans at home. Congressman Lynch continues to support legislation that improves our domestic security.
On June 4, 2009 Congressman Lynch voted in favor of House Resolution 2200 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Authorization Act of 2009, which passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 397 - 25. The Bill is the first measure to fully authorize the TSA since enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001.
The Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act authorizes over $15.6 billion in appropriations for the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) activities and programs for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The Bill triples the funding available for surface transportation security over previous levels. It addresses critical areas of our transportation security and enhances current practices in the areas of security training, cargo and passenger screening, and explosives detection. Additionally, it authorizes an additional 200 surface transportation security inspectors for 2010 and an additional 100 inspectors for 2011.
To this bill Congressman Lynch added an amendment allowing that any personnel of the TSA voluntarily may wear personal protective equipment during any emergency. The TSA employs about 50,000 officers that come in direct contact with travelers, wanding and screening them as they pass through security checkpoints. Many of these officers screen up to 2,000-3,000 travelers per shift, yet are prohibited from wearing protective clothing. After the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus, it became clear that we needed to change this policy, and allow these front line officers to work as safely as possible.
In addition to the security enhancements provided in the TSA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more commonly known as the Economic Stimulus Package, also included $1billion to the TSA for checked baggage explosives detection systems and checkpoint explosives detection equipment. ARRA funds recently paid for the purchase and installation of Whole Body Imaging (WBI) scanners at Logan International Airport in Boston, and other airports around the country. These secondary screening devices are an important component to creating a comprehensive and efficient security system for the flying public.
Congressman Lynch continues to advocate for the resources necessary to support our First Responders. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) continue to be critical resources for local Fire Departments. From 2002-09, 48 communities in the Ninth Congressional District received a total of approximately $5 million. These funds helped the departments purchase new vehicles and equipment, upgrade facilities, and provide personal protective equipment and training and fitness programs for their firefighters. Congressman Lynch again supported increased funding for both grant programs on Fiscal Year 2011. SAFER is a competitive grant program that helps departments increase their cadre of firefighters. To help communities better take advantage of this program, the Economic Stimulus package included a provision that waives the non-federal matching requirements for SAFER grants in Fiscal Years 2009-2010 and also included $210 million for the Fire Station Construction Grant Program.
Also in an effort to alleviate the burden on local budgets and maintain necessary staffing levels and commitment to public safety within local Police Departments, the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) received an increase of $242 million above 2009 funding levels, for a total of $792 million. This includes $298 million specifically for COPS Hiring Grants to hire or retain approximately 1,400 police officers. The Economic Stimulus package made available up to $1 billion in grant funding for the hiring and rehiring of additional career law enforcement officers and also waived local match requirement.
Port security is a critical component of America's homeland defense preparedness and Congressman Lynch maintains his effort to safeguard our seaports against a potential terrorist attack. As the United States Congressman representing the Port of Boston, Congressman Lynch joined a number of his colleagues in requesting that the highly successful Port Security Grant Program is funded at its fully authorized level of $400 million in Fiscal Year 2010. With the support of Congressman Lynch and the Massachusetts Delegation, the Port of Boston has received more than $13.7 million through this program between Fiscal Years 2002-2010, to improve security around the port and protect maritime commerce, port related business, and the residents of the Commonwealth from water-borne threats. The ARRA, which included $150 million for the Port Security Grant Program, provided approximately $5 million to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and it's waterside communities to enhance port security.
With record snowfalls and major floods, our nation has faced several natural disasters this year; and many areas of the country are continuing to recover from previous disasters. To support ongoing and future disaster relief efforts, Congressman Lynch voted in favor of the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act of 2010, when it passed the House of Representatives on March 24, 2009, by a vote of 239-175. This $5.1 billion package ensures that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can continue its work helping communities recover from recent disasters and to ensure that they have resources to respond to future disasters. Due to lack of funds, FEMA has about $2 billion in projects on hold.
Other Homeland Security Initiatives
Congressman Lynch voted in favor of the Chemical and Water Security Act, HR 2868, which passed the House on November 6, 2009by a margin of 230 to 193. This bill reauthorizes the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) authority to improve, implement and enforce the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards. It also requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish parallel security programs for drinking water and wastewater facilities.