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Providing for Consideration of Conference Report on H.R. 2055, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012; Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3672, Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2012; Providing for Consideration of H. Con. Res. 94, Correcting the Enroll

Floor Speech

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Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule and the underlying measure, the conference report on H.R. 2055.

When presented with this 1,219-page funding bill, it's hard to know where to start. As the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, I choose to start by looking at how it will affect our Nation's first responders and the communities they protect.

This package, 10 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, is a dangerous departure from the path we've been on as a Nation to build up our preparedness and our response capabilities. It abandons the men and women we count on to save lives.

Since 9/11 there has been a general recognition that, as a Nation, we are dangerously unprepared for the emerging threats we face. That is why past Congresses established an array of Federal grant programs targeted to specific homeland security gaps and needs. Across the country, we've seen the benefits of the path lead by the Congresses towards preparedness as evidenced by the response to this year's wave of disasters.

Today, however, this Congress not only strays from the path but bulldozes it.

The conference report slashes more than $2 billion from first responder funding. Last year, $3.38 billion was provided to communities across the country under FEMA's grant program, most notably: the State Homeland Security Grant program, Urban Area Security Initiative, Metropolitan Medical Response System, Operation Stonegarden, Citizen Corps program, Port Security Grant Program, transit security grant programs, interoperability community grant programs, and emergency operation centers. This year, under this package, just $1.35 billion is designated for all of the grant programs.

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Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. That is less than half of what we were provided this last year.

To make matters worse, this package punts responsibility for the tough decisions about funding levels for each program to Secretary Napolitano.

The approach taken here should surprise no one. Tough decisions about funding have been punted throughout this session, and as a result, the Congress has moved from shutdown crisis to shutdown crisis.

If this package is enacted, the Congress will be punting responsibility for meeting the Homeland Security challenges of a post-9/11 world to State, local, and tribal governments. The timing of the shift of responsibility could not be worse.

We must not ignore the cause from public safety and first responder organizations that have warned us about devastating effects of cuts. For this reason and probably a hundred more, I oppose the conference report.

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