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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCHNEIDER. I rise to lend my support to the underlying bill we are debating today. The Homeland Security appropriations measures make key investments in technology for our first responders, disaster relief funding for our communities, and critical grant funding for our local fire departments.

It is the centerpiece for how we invest, not only in our national security, but also in the security of our local communities.

Earlier this year, the district I represent was severely affected by regional flooding that damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. The impacts on families is a human one. Many lost their homes. Many lost their business and may not be able to reopen. This terrible situation highlights the tremendous need for disaster relief that is comprehensive and far-reaching.

FEMA helped many in my district to recover a small piece of their lives after the storms; and, consequently, I am happy to see that the committee included $6.2 billion in disaster relief funding. This funding will be critical as we, in Illinois, continue the effort to rebuild our communities affected by the flooding, as well as for those in Oklahoma, New Jersey, and other areas as they rebuild after natural disasters.

I also applaud efforts by the committee to support $1.5 billion allocated for FEMA State and local grant programs. Specifically, I would like to highlight a program that addresses the distinctive security needs of nonprofit groups, helping at the local level to safeguard human life and property against credible threats to the safety of our communities.

The Urban Area Security Initiative provides a funding source for targeted nonprofit groups to invest in their own security. These grants, typically utilized by churches, synagogues and community centers, are designed to acquire and install equipment that can help prevent and mitigate terrorist attacks in our communities.

Organizers use these grants to make capital improvements, such as installing security cameras, physical barriers, or controlled-entry systems, safeguards that can make a difference in deterring threats.

Recent incidents in Boston, New York, Wisconsin, and New Jersey highlight that credible threats to these pillars of our communities exist. The need for these grants is clear, and the impact in our communities can be profound.

I would like to thank the committee for its support of these critical programs that can be utilized by States and local groups to address emerging threats and security concerns specific to their circumstance. I appreciate the bipartisan work done on this important bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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