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Public Statements

Issue Position: Homeland Security

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

The first responsibility of all federal officials is to secure the homeland and keep our nation safe. After the horrific attacks of September 11th, it was obvious to most Americans that our intelligence services were in need of a dramatic overhaul and reorganization. The families of the victims of September 11th showed courage and persistence in working with the Congress to ensure that the 9/11 Commission's recommendations were put into law and I was pleased that last December, at the very the end of the 108th Congress, we passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

This bill made historic changes in the way our government collects and analyzes intelligence. It created a Director of National Intelligence, ensuring that there is a high level official, answerable to the President, whose primary responsibility is to ensure that our intelligence agencies are sharing information and communicating with one another.

It also called for dramatic improvements in the security of our nation's transportation infrastructure, including aviation security, air cargo security, and port security. Through this legislation, the security of the Northern Border will also be improved - a goal I have worked toward since 2001. The bill also included a number of key immigration reform provisions, including those addressing the process of obtaining United States visas.

I was disappointed that the bill did not specifically mandate an improvement in how the federal government allocates critical homeland security funds to states and local communities around the country. I have repeatedly called upon the Administration and my colleagues to implement threat-based homeland security funding to ensure that the homeland security resources go to the states and areas where they are needed most. I have introduced legislation toward this end and even developed a specific homeland security formula for Administration officials to consider. I will continue to call for a more realistic system for allocating homeland security resources to the areas, such as New York, where they are most needed.

I was very pleased to announce in early December that New York State received close to $300 million in federal homeland security funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. This was an increase over the previous year's funding, and provided vitally needed funds to support our efforts to make New York safer and more secure.

I introduced in the Senate the Ensuring Needed Help Arrives Near Callers Employing 9-1-1 (ENHANCE) Act, which was signed into law in December. E-911 technology allows emergency dispatchers to locate the exact geographic location of a call coming from a cell phone. This new law creates a national coordination office to help states, cities and towns implement effective E-911 response systems. This is especially needed in New York , where nearly half of all 911 calls are made on cell phones. Until now, the deployment of E-911 has been hampered by a lack of funding for technology and equipment and the diversion of E-911 surcharges for other purposes. This new law addressed these problems by authorizing $250 million each year for the next five years in matching grants to state and local governments and tribal organizations to enhance emergency communications services.

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