U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) today warned of the negative consequences of the continuing resolution passed by House Republicans early Saturday morning, which included an across-the-board 66 percent cut to the Port Security Grant Program.
Since 2008, Delaware firefighters, police departments, state agencies and private entities have been awarded nearly $7 million for security efforts along the Delaware Bay and Delaware River from the Port Security Grant Program -- most of it geared toward security and emergency response at and around the Port of Wilmington.
"As our nation faces a mushrooming deficit and budget crisis, my colleagues and I agree that some cuts to federal spending are needed to bring our nation's fiscal house in order," said Sen. Carper. "However, Congress cannot be pennywise and pound foolish as we look for ways to reduce federal spending. Unfortunately many of the cuts approved by House Republicans -- including these devastating reductions to port security efforts -- jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of Delawareans and Americans across the country."
"We should certainly be looking for ways to reduce government spending," Senator Coons said. "But it is reckless and irresponsible to make such drastic cuts to our national security efforts. The impact on security at the Port of Wilmington would be significant, making our region and our nation less secure."
More than four million tons of cargo pass through the Port of Wilmington each year, making it the busiest port on the Delaware River.
The Port Security Grant Program is used to strengthen the nation's critical infrastructure against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks. The vast bulk of U.S. critical infrastructure is owned and/or operated by state, local and private sector partners. Port Security Grant Program funds support increased port-wide risk management, training, and other efforts to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from attacks involving improvised explosive devices and other non-conventional weapons.
The Delaware Bay area received $15,981,284 from the Port Security Grant Program in FY2010, but would receive only $5,299,349 for FY2011 under the House of Representatives' continuing resolution.
"The challenge before us is to strike the right balance between reducing spending to close our massive deficit while still providing the resources needed to ensure that the American economy can continue to recover in the short-term and prosper in the long-term," said Sen. Carper. "That balance can only be found through a thoughtful approach that tackles spending with a strategically deployed scalpel rather than blunt cuts across the board as suggested by House Republicans. By striking the right balance we can protect jobs in Delaware and across the country and still provide the necessary funding to protect security at our nation's ports."
"America's ports produce over $3 trillion in economic activity and employ more than 13 million Americans," Senator Coons said. "We should be doing more to protect them from the threats facing our nation, but the cuts made by House Republicans in their continuing resolution would instead make our ports more vulnerable."