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Mr. KING of New York. I thank the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee for yielding.
Let me at the very outset thank him for his leadership and cooperation in working through such a difficult bill at such a difficult time in our history. We are faced with a severe terrorist threat. We are also faced with severe fiscal restraints. Last year, I very reluctantly voted against the Homeland Security appropriations bill.
I want to commend Chairman Rogers and Chairman Aderholt for working to resolve the good faith differences we had. For instance, in areas such as State and local grants, we increased them by $350 million to increase by 50 percent the amount allocated to the highest-risk areas in our country. The Urban Area Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grant Program, port security, transportation security--all of those programs were addressed in this bill. Nothing is ever as much as we want, but considering the realities we face as a Nation, Chairman Rogers and Chairman Aderholt have done an outstanding job.
Coming from a district which lost so many people on September 11 and which still faces threats, and where we every day, quite frankly, analyze terror threat reports, this funding is extremely important, especially to the NYPD, which does such an outstanding job in spite of the gratuitous, mindless, shameless attacks made upon it by those in the media and by others in elected office as well. So this funding is extremely, extremely vital, especially for the STC, the Secure the Cities program, which will protect not just New York but will provide a template to protect urban areas against dirty bomb attacks throughout the country.
Let me also focus on the issue of the TWIC program. I know the ranking member from the Homeland Security Committee is here and that he'll be addressing this later, but this is an issue of bipartisan concern to our committee: the fact that we still have not been able to protect the TWIC system and that there have been burdens imposed on our workers as far as time constraints being imposed on them and as far as the funding they have to spend. This is a real burden that has been put on them.
So in the Homeland Security Committee, we passed by voice vote the SMART Port bill, which attempts to alleviate this burden on the port worker. Primarily what it does is extends the validity of the TWIC cards currently set to begin expiring later this year until the Department of Homeland Security finally releases the TWIC reader rule.
Port workers, drivers, and others who have to obtain a TWIC should not have to bear the burden of the government's inability to get the job done. I believe the provision we included in this SMART Port bill provides sufficient motivation for the Coast Guard and TSA. I can assure you on behalf of myself--I know he can speak for himself--and the ranking member of the committee as well, we will work together, our committee will work with the Appropriations Committee and with the Department as we try to resolve this issue.
Again, I thank Chairman Aderholt for his leadership and for the job that he has done.
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