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Congresswoman Val Demings

Representing the 10th District of Florida

Congresswoman Val Demings and Congressman Will Hurd Push to Increase Counter-Terrorism Fund

April 17, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Val Demings, of Florida’s 10th Congressional District, and Congressman Will Hurd, (R-TX) led 19 bipartisan Members of Congress in calling for an increase in counter-terrorism funding for our nation’s most at-risk cities.

The funding is a part of the Urban Area Security Initiative, which assists state and local law enforcement in these regions strengthen their abilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism.  Since its inception after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the program has proven to be an effective vehicle for delivering homeland security funds to our nation’s highest-threat metropolitan areas. 

“As the first line of defense, it is critical that local law enforcement agencies are equipped to detect, prevent and effectively respond to any enemy that threatens the safety of their citizens,” said Congresswoman Demings. “At the time of the 9/11 attacks I was Commander of the Orlando Police Department Airport Division at the Orlando International Airport, and saw firsthand how these funds could be used to make sure local law enforcement is prepared to prevent, and respond to threats.”

Currently, only the 29 “highest-risk” cities nationwide are eligible to receive funding under the program.  Congresswoman Demings, Congressman Hurd and the other Members expressed concern that as many as 9 mid-sized cities, including Orlando and San Antonio, have utilized UASI funding to increase their ability to respond to and prevent terrorist attacks, but have also each endured consecutive years without receiving any UASI funds to sustain those federally-supported capabilities.

“As the site of the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history, and as the number one tourist destination in our nation, there is no question Orlando should be on the list of cities that receive federal support to fight terrorism,” said Congresswoman Val Demings.

Since 2010, law enforcement agencies in the Orlando metropolitan area have received more than $11 million in total funding through the UASI program.  However, reduced nationwide funding for the program in recent years has resulted in fewer cities being included in the program.

“While we strongly agree that UASI funding must remain focused on the areas under the greatest threat and at the greatest risk, we are concerned that cities and urban areas that have experienced lapses in this crucial funding risk losing the increased capacity and capabilities created with prior UASI funds,” the Members wrote.   These capabilities can erode if planning is not updated, equipment is not maintained, refresher trainings are not provided, and exercises are not repeated.

Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Honolulu, Kansas City, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Virginia Beach-Norfolk have each received more than $8 million in UASI funding since FY2010, but have also each endured two consecutive years without receiving any funds through the program.

Since 2010, law enforcement agencies in the Orlando metropolitan area have received more than $11 million in total funding through the UASI program.  San Antonio has received $8.4 million in UASI funding since 2010, but also has not received funding since 2014. Reduced nationwide funding for the program in recent years has resulted in fewer cities being included in the program. 

 

 

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April 4, 2017

 

The Honorable Jon Carter, Chairman

Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

 


 


 

Dear Chairman Carter and Ranking Member Roybal-Allard:

 

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to protecting our nation from terrorism.  As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, we respectfully request that you include $700,000,000 in funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), and that eligibility for the program be expanded to include the 36 urban areas with the highest cumulative national terrorism risk. 

Homeland security is an ongoing mission that requires continuous attention and vigilance because the mission does not end.  Since its creation after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the UASI program has proven to be the most effective vehicle for delivering homeland security funds where they are needed most: our nation’s highest-threat metropolitan areas. The program assists state and local law enforcement in these regionsstrengthen their abilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism. 

We recognize that your leadership has guided the Subcommittee’s continued support of the UASI program, and sustained the current funding level despite ongoing fiscal constraints and repeated requests by the prior Administration to realign or further cut the program.  Still, the prolonged reduction in UASI funding below the FY 2010-enacted level of $887 million has resulted in contracting program eligibility to continue the prioritization of funding to regions under the greatest risk of terrorist attack.

While we strongly agree that UASI funding must remain focused on the areas under the greatest threat and at the greatest risk, we are concerned that cities and urban areas that have experienced lapses in this crucial funding risk losing the increased capacity and capabilities created with prior UASI funds.  Certain counter-terror capabilities require a minimal baseline annual or recurring sustainment funding, without which capability levels begin to decrease as planning is not updated, equipment is not maintained, refresher trainings are not provided, and exercises are not repeated. 

Therefore, we respectfully urge you to not only continue to restore funding for the UASI program by providing $700 million in FY 2018, but that you also support retention of previously-funded improvements by accompanying that restoration with an expansion of eligibility to the 36 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest cumulative national terrorism risk.

​Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

 

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