WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a key 9/11 Commission recommendation that calls for homeland security funds to be allocated based on risk.
The House approved the legislation, H.R. 1544, the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act of 2005, 409 to 10.
"This new law will get Federal assistance to first responders when and where it is needed. At the same time, it will ensure that homeland security spending is directly related to national security preparedness, and not political pork," said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox (R- CA). "Approval of this bill is directly responsive to the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that homeland security grants be based on risk."
The Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act was first introduced by Chairman Cox in October 2003. Subsequently, the 9/11 Commission echoed the bill in its recommendation that political formulas for distributing homeland security funds give way to allocation based on risk. The Act further requires the establishment of measurable preparedness goals to guide homeland security grant awards and the way that first responders apply them.
First responder funding represents 11% of the Department of Homeland Security's budget. For 2006, the Bush Administration has requested $2 billion for homeland security assistance to state and local first responders.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testified to the Committee on Homeland Security on April 13, 2005, that he intends to make prioritization of spending based on risk a priority of the Department. Families of victims killed on September 11, 2001, endorsed the legislation in Committee testimony on April 14, 2005, as did 21 national first responder organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the National Association of EMT's.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved related legislation on April 13, 2005. Following Senate floor action on the bill, a House-Senate conference will reconcile any differences before Congress sends a final bill to President Bush later this year.