Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this bill, which irresponsibly slashes over one billion dollars from programs that protect and support the ability of our police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel to quickly and adequately respond to a disaster or a terrorist attack.
The destructive flooding across the Mississippi basin and the devastating tornados in Alabama and Missouri have demonstrated the need for a rapid and effective response to save lives.
This is true for other parts our country like my home city of Los Angeles which is vulnerable to fires and earthquakes and is one of the top ten targets for a terrorist attack.
My police departments, firefighters and first responders have said that the cuts in this bill will delay their implementation of their badly needed inter-operable communication system which is critical to emergency coordination efforts. It was the lack of this kind of technology during the 9-11 attacks that contributed to hundreds of deaths.
The cuts in this bill also jeopardize the security of our nation’s ports. The Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, for example, tells us that the cuts to Port Security grants would seriously threaten their ability to protect the port and to continue critical security training programs. An attack on this complex alone would have devastating consequences on our economy.
FEMA Director Craig Fugate testified before our Subcommittee that degrading the capabilities of state and local governments would likely magnify the impact of a disaster and ultimately increase the total cost to taxpayers. This bill turns a blind eye to these realities.
It is a dangerous bill that weakens our national security and undermines the ability of our first responders to safely meet the dangerous challenges they face every day.
America cannot cut its way to greater security. Today’s realities require that our first responders and our Department of Homeland Security receive funding commensurate with the scale and severity of the threats America faces.
I ask my colleagues to join me in opposing HR 2017.
Speech taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcBrLtjh19Q.