Obama to slash funding for port, transit security programs

The Security Industry Association has come out in opposition of President Obama’s proposed budget cuts that would reduce funding for school, transit and port security programs.

In a statement in which it characterized the proposed cuts as “ill-advised” and “disappointing,” the SIA said that the president wants to reduce funding for the Transit Security Grant Program and the Port Security Grant Program from the current level of $388.6 million each to $250 million each for the 2010 fiscal year. Congress had previously authorized $900 million for the transit program and $400 for the port program.

“At a time when we haven’t even rolled out the TWIC (program), there’s certainly a great deal of need to have adequate funding and adequate federal support for the Port Security Grant Program,” said Don Erickson, SIA director of government relations. “Secondly, under the 9/11 bill that passed a couple of years ago, the Transit Security Grant Program was funded at $900 million annually. I will be the first to admit that we’re very disappointed that it didn’t receive full funding, but what’s really telling about this particular budget recommendation is that it’s even less than last year’s recommendation which was $400 million. It’s really a step backward.”

Erickson added that the SIA is urging Congress to reject the proposed 2010 budget and follow through with what has already been recommended.

“Our advice with regards to both port and transit is that Congress reject the Obama administration’s budget and follow the law,” he said. “That’s our bottom line; follow the law and what the authorized amount was.”

Though he would keep funding for the Secure Our Schools program at the current level of $16 million, Erickson says that it is well below the $50 million that was authorized by the House in September.

“We think that the Obama administration recommending pretty much static funding is really unacceptable,” he said. “Obviously, the last thing anybody wants is to have another tragedy that results in members of Congress suddenly saying, ‘we should fund these programs,’ etcetera. “I think Congress needs to be a little more proactive and try to be active and more preventative in ensuring that funds are in place to prevent tragedies, rather than just responding.”