U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, announced funding for several projects included in the fiscal year 2008 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. This legislation was approved by the Senate last night and will now go to a conference committee with the House of Representatives for consideration.
Maritime Patrol Aircraft -$170.016 Million
In 2004, EADS (European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company) North America announced the expansion of operations to Mobile with a new EADS CASA facility. All training for the CN-235 will take place at the U.S. Coast Guard Mobile Air Training Center in Mobile.
"The CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) provides the patrol and surveillance capability necessary to keep our coastal waters safe,” said Shelby. “This funding will allow for the acquisition of four additional MPAs ready to serve in Coast Guard missions. The MPA greatly enhances the Coast Guard’s operational range and provides increased security in our U.S. coastal waters.”
Center For Domestic Preparedness - $57 Million
In addition to training our nation=s local first responders, the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) at Ft. McClellan works closely with a number of federal agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, and others to develop new integrated counter-terrorism training programs.
"The CDP is the cornerstone of our nation's emergency responder training facilities,” said Shelby. “The $57 million provided in this bill will ensure that our nation’s first responders can continue to train at the only civilian live-agent facility in the country. 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. These first responders include law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel who are trained by CDP to prevent and respond to incidents of terrorism."
"Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on our country, the importance of first responders has become more evident. Ft. McClellan's Center for Domestic Preparedness provides the necessary training for professionals to rapidly respond and react to terrorist attacks or natural disasters," said Shelby.
Noble Training Center - $5.5 Million
Due to legislation enacted in fiscal year 2007, the Noble Training Hospital is now a part of CDP’s overall mission. The Noble Training Center is the only hospital facility in the United States solely devoted to training healthcare professionals in the areas of disaster preparedness and response. The integration of these two training facilities will allow CDP to deliver a comprehensive medical curriculum to specifically address medical and public health preparedness and response. The transfer of Noble Training Center further cements the Center for Domestic Preparedness as the preeminent all-hazards preparedness and response training facility in the country allowing for seamless event response and medical evacuation and response training.
“It is critical that we learn from our experiences and prepare for emergency events,” said Shelby. “As we continue to fight against terrorism and ready the nation for a natural disaster, emergency training is essential for our health care professionals. Unfortunately, with emergencies come injuries, and our doctors and nurses must be prepared to respond to any tragic event, whether man made or natural disaster.”
14 Mile CSX Railroad Bridge on the Mobile River - $4 Million
The funding will allow the Coast Guard to continue its ongoing efforts to replace the bridge.
“Replacement of 14 Mile CSX Railroad Bridge will ensure safe marine navigation on the Mobile River, which is vital to maintaining the efficiency and reliability of waterway commerce through the Port of Mobile and along the Black Warrior?Tombigbee waterway system,” said Shelby. AThe replacement of the bridge will save shippers millions of dollars annually in lost time and accidents, and will greatly assist in the shipment of cargo moving through the Alabama State Docks.”
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) - $6 Million
“Having the necessary resources, knowledge and technology available to conduct a thorough investigation into child exploitation is essential to protecting our children,” said Shelby. “This funding will assist NCMEC with their continued efforts to help ensure our children's safety."
Firefighter Assistance Grants - $700 Million
Firefighter Assistance Grants are administered by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic Preparedness. Funds can be used for such things as fire operations, firefighter safety programs, emergency medical services, and firefighting vehicles.
“The Firefighter Assistance Grants assist local fire departments in their efforts to protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire?related hazards,” said Shelby. “The funding will also provide assistance for fire prevention programs."
Transportation Security Grants - $828 Million
Transportation Security Grants are administered by the Office of the State and Local Government Preparedness and Coordination within the Department of Homeland Security; $400 million will be used for port security grants, $400 million for rail and transit security grants, $12 million for inter-city bus security grants, and $16 million for trucking industry security grants.
“During this time of heightened threats to the U.S. homeland, it is imperative that we take nothing for granted,” said Shelby. “We must take significant steps to improve our transportation infrastructure, which this legislation accomplishes through funding for rail and transit security grants, port security grants, inter-city bus security grants, and trucking industry security grants. We have made great strides in improving our nation=s aviation security, but Americans deserve to have the government devoted to the security of every mode of transportation."
NOTE: The Senate adopted an amendment during consideration of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that increased funding for the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grants program. The amendment reduced Senate funding of all programs by .27 percent. As such, the numbers listed above are subject to change.