Washington - According to a report by the Associated Press citing Bush administration budget documents, President Bush plans to request a sharp decrease in funds for first responder grants when he submits his FY09 budget proposal early next year. The administration reportedly wants to cut programs for port security, transit security and local emergency management operations and will request $1.4 billion in local anti-terror funds, drastically lower than the $3.2 billion that the Department of Homeland Security wants.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who has long advocated for increased grants to the cities and states most at risk for terrorist attacks and for port and transit security programs, today released the following statement:
"For an administration that constantly uses 9/11 and the continuing terrorist threats to justify a whole range of policies, this would seem to be a decision rooted in a pre-9/11 mentality. We've seen a lot of questionable homeland security decisions by the Bush Administration over the past six years, and this one would be one the more misguided moves."
"At the same time the president is asking for $200 billion for the Iraq War this year, he reportedly wants to shortchange local first responders along with port and transit security here at home -- even in the areas most at risk. With al Qaeda having regrouped in a safe zone along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, it's clear that our number one enemy is back in business and that our first responders need all the preparation they can get.
"These reported cuts would seem to have a disproportionate effect on New Jersey, with our heavy concentration of people, ports and transit systems. I will stand up for security in our state and work to make sure this plan doesn't see the light of day."
# # #