Jun 20 2008

Funding could be restored for CDP

Anniston Star

By Megan Nichols

A Senate subcommittee is proposing that the Center for Domestic Preparedness be fully funded in 2009, removing President Bush's proposed 25-percent cut for the facility from its budget.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, sits on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and on Tuesday announced that group's approval of $62.5 million for the CDP, located at McClellan. Bush had requested the CDP receive $47 million.

"The funding in this legislation will allow CDP to maintain its training capacity for first responders so that we may respond to terrorist attacks quickly and effectively," Shelby said in a statement.

The subcommittee's proposal will today be discussed in a Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing.

The CDP, a unit of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, has trained more than 350,000 first responders from around the country since it opened in 1998. It is the only weapons of mass destruction training facility with the ability to provide hands-on training to civilians using live chemical agents.

The facility occupies space vacated when the Army closed Fort McClellan.

Kathy Wood, spokeswoman for the CDP, said in a statement that "FEMA always appreciates the efforts of Sen. Shelby, but we do not comment on pending legislation."

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, has been working in the House to restore funding to the CDP. Shea Snider, spokeswoman for Rogers, said that he would continue to do so.

"While it looks like the House bill will be in line with the president's request, we are still early in the process," Snider said.

Pete Conroy, member of the McClellan Joint Powers Authority, said he spoke on behalf of the JPA in saying that the possible CDP funding was great news for the facility, as well as the region.

"The JPA thanks Sen. Shelby 62 million times over," Conroy said.