New Jersey Delegation Calls Out Antiterrorism Cuts

New Jersey Delegation Calls Out Antiterrorism Cuts

Slashed funding to threatened urban centers could threaten regional security

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today joined Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09) and the entire New Jersey delegation in demanding Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf explain why the recently-released DHS budget includes potential cuts in funding to the Garden State from the Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) preparedness grant programs.

“We write concerning the recent notices of funding opportunity and allocations for the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) preparedness grant programs. As the most urbanized state in America, New Jersey and our cities rely on the federal support provided by these programs to strengthen their emergency preparedness and protect the daily threats our communities face. Consequently, we have serious questions on the recent changes to the funding allocations for grant recipients, including the use of national priorities,” the members write.

The recent terrorist attacks in Jersey City tragically demonstrate that the potential danger to New Jersey and regional communities has not abated. However, according to the recent DHS announcement on FY20 notices of funding opportunity and allocations, New Jersey is only eligible to receive between $6,153,600 and $7,692,000 in SHSP funds and between $15,240,000 and $19,050,000 in UASI funds. These figures represent the lowest amount of support New Jersey would receive in SHSP and UASI funds in at least seven fiscal years. This is a significant drop from the state’s recent high mark of SHSP allocation of $7,993,000 and UASI allocation of $22,750,000 in FY18, respectively, a potential 23 percent and 33 percent cut.

“As you know, funding determinations to keep our communities safe should not be made with politics in mind. As representatives from the most urbanized state in the country, we thank you very much for your time and attention to this important matter. We look forward to your prompt response,” the members’ letter concludes.

The letter is signed by Sens. Menendez and Booker, and Rep. Pascrell, Christopher Smith (N.J.-04), Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06), Albio Sires (N.J.-08), Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10), Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-05), Andy Kim (N.J.-03), Tom Malinowski (N.J.-07), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11), and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.-02).

Full text of the delegation letter is below and can be downloaded here.

February 27, 2016

The Honorable Chad Wolf

Acting Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane, SW

Washington, DC 20528

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

We write concerning the recent notices of funding opportunity and allocations for the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) preparedness grant programs. As the most urbanized state in America, New Jersey and our cities rely on the federal support provided by these programs to strengthen their emergency preparedness and protect the daily threats our communities face. Consequently, we have serious questions on the recent changes to the funding allocations for grant recipients, including the use of national priorities.

The threat of terrorism continues to grow every day. The burden of responding to and managing an emergency falls almost entirely on local first responders and their regional partners within hours or days of an event. These federal programs provide critically needed resources to equipping first responders with the tools and training to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters. In addition, SHSP and UASI funds encourage regional coordination among public safety officials that has drastically improved local, state, and federal cooperation.

The recent terrorist attacks in Jersey City tragically demonstrate that the potential danger to our communities has not abated. However, it appears the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not fully recognize that danger. According to the recent DHS announcement on FY20 notices of funding opportunity and allocations, New Jersey is only eligible to receive between $6,153,600 and $7,692,000 in SHSP funds and between $15,240,000 and $19,050,000 in UASI funds. These figures represent the lowest amount of support our state would receive in SHSP and UASI funds in at least seven fiscal years. This is a significant drop from our recent high mark of SHSP allocation of $7,993,000 and UASI allocation of $22,750,000 in FY18, respectably a potential 23 percent and 33 percent cut.

We request a full and complete explanation of the rationale for lowering New Jersey’s funding eligibility through these programs. Specifically, we ask you to answer the following questions:

  • Is this the first time DHS has issued a range of funding allocations for SHSP and UASI? If not, please detail those prior instances.
  • Please explain why DHS chose cybersecurity, soft targets and crowded places, intelligence and information sharing, and emerging threats as four critical national priority areas for attention in the FY20 grant cycle.

o   Please delineate the methodology DHS used to determine New Jersey’s funding eligibility under these priority areas.

o   Has DHS ever restricted funding eligibility in the past? If so, please explain.

  • Please detail which individuals at DHS decided to implement these new restrictions. Please list any other outside agencies or parties that DHS consulted in making these funding changes.

As you know, funding determinations to keep our communities safe should not be made with politics in mind. As representatives from the most urbanized state in the country, we thank you very much for your time and attention to this important matter. We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

###

 

Press Contact

Steven_Sandberg@menendez.senate.gov (Menendez)