Contact: Chris Gallegos
DOMENICI SECURES 2004 HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING FOR SOCORRO’S FIRST RESPONDER TRAINING PROGRAM
WASHINGTON, D.C. JULY 9, 2003-- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today secured funding to support activities in New Mexico that strengthen the nation’s homeland security efforts, including $20 million to continue New Mexico Tech’s first responder training program.
Domenici is a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that today approved the FY2004 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the $23.9 billion measure on Thursday. Full committee approval would clear the bill for Senate consideration later this summer.
“New Mexico is home to some key homeland security-related institutions and I have worked to see that the first-ever Homeland Security funding bill builds on the expertise located in our state,” Domenici said. “Much of the funding in the bill will be made available through a competitive process, but the bill still provides important and direct resources for homeland security work in the state.”
Domenici worked to secure funding in the Senate bill to, among other things, first responder training at New Mexico Tech at Socorro, advance work at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) at Artesia,, and border surveillance technologies in southern New Mexico.
Overall, the bill will fund a wide variety of law enforcement, border security and other programs administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Specific to New Mexico Tech, Domenici supported $130 million, a $5 million increase, for the first responder training carried out by the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). This funding level will maintain funding for the New Mexico Tech program at the current $20 million. NDPC members include: New Mexico Tech, Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University, the DOE Nevada Test Site, and the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala.
“New Mexico Tech has a lot of talent to lend in the ongoing fight against terrorism and in emergency preparedness,” Domenici said. “I am pleased that New Mexico Tech and its partners in the First Responder program will receive funding to expand their ability to train communities in responding to emergency or terrorist situations. I will continue to try to increase this funding.”
Domenici and other subcommittee members representing the consortium stated that the NDPC has the capacity to train additional first responders and will continue to work for more funding for the program. The consortium had requested a $245 million funding level for the NDPC in FY2004.
The bill provides $3.6 billion overall to train and equip state and local first responders, and ensure that state and local law enforcement can undertake and expand anti-terrorism activities. This is more than 10 times the pre-September 11 funding levels for these programs.
Highlights of funding for programs requested and supported by Domenici include:
- National Domestic Preparedness Consortium - $130 million is approved to continue first responder training through this consortium of Fort McClellan, Alabama ($50 million), and four training partners ($20 million each) – New Mexico Tech, Texas A&M, the Nevada Test Site, and Louisiana State University.
- Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Personnel - An increase of $33.3 million is approved for additional inspection personnel. These funds are provided in response to staffing concerns across the nation, including New Mexico ports of entry. The Bureau is to submit a comprehensive deployment plan to include existing and new personnel positions.
- Border Agents - $41 million in additional funding is provided to fund 570 new border agent positions, bringing the total number of border patrol agents to 11,650. The Bureau is to submit a deployment plan to the committee for review.
- Integrated Surveillance Information Systems - The Committee directs the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to quickly implement deployment of this system with available funds, and to report to the Committee no later than Oct. 1, 2003, on progress made meeting this goal.
- Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) - $318.7 million is provided to continue development of ACE, a new automated system to expedite border crossings.
- Border Infrastructure - Continuing Senator Domenici’s initiative to focus attention and resources on border infrastructure needs, the Committee supports implementation of the US-Mexico border partnership action plan. The Committee directs the Department of Homeland Security to work with the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop a nationwide strategy to prioritize and address the infrastructure needs at land ports-of-entry, and to seek necessary funding. There are infrastructure needs at both the Santa Teresa and Columbus ports of entry in New Mexico. The Border Patrol is also directed to update its priority list for construction projects by July 1, 2004.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement Personnel - The Committee approves an additional $20.3 million and 173 positions (155 special agents) to increase immigration and customs investigations staffing. A comprehensive staffing deployment plan is requested for this organization.
- Federal Air Marshals - Within the $5.4 billion provided for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), $600 million is approved for the Air Marshals program, as requested by the President.
- Federal Flight Deck Officer Training - Within the TSA budget, $25 million as requested by the Administration is approved for this purpose.
- Domestic Preparedness - $3.6 billion in total is provided for the Office of Domestic Preparedness, including $2.9 billion for State and Local programs, and $750 million for Firefighter Assistance Grants.
• For State and Local programs, $1.75 billion will be allocated by formula on a per capita basis, and funds shall be disbursed within 60 days of enactment of the bill. Not less than 80 percent of the funds shall be obligated to local governments within 45 days after the States’ receive these funds.
• $50 million is for the Citizen Corps.
• $500 million of these State and Local funds are for terrorism prevention grants. $750 million will go to high-threat urban areas.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response - The Committee directs the Department of Homeland Security to award $79.75 million currently available for interoperable communications equipment to communities by October 1, 2003.
• $50 million is to be available for training exercises. Exercises at Playas in New Mexico could be funded under this program.