First Responder Funding Reform Clears Committee; Headed for Floor

Moving one step closer to the most significant overhaul of homeland security spending to date, the Committee on Homeland Security unanimously approved the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act of 2005.

The legislation, H.R. 1544, implements the 9/11 Commission's recommendation to allocate federal homeland security funds to first responders based on risk rather than political formulas. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) first introduced the legislation in October 2003. More recently, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has made risk analysis a centerpiece of his plans for the Department of Homeland Security.

"Full committee approval is a significant step toward implementing a major 9/11 Commission recommendation," said Cox. "Every member of the Homeland Security Committee voted for the bill. We expect it will enjoy similarly strong bipartisan support on the House floor."

First responder funding represents 11 percent of the Department of Homeland Security budget. In 2006, assistance to state and local first responders will total $3.6 billion.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved related legislation on April 13, 2005. The Senate sponsors have forecast quick Senate approval. The major issue is expected to be the share of funds to be allocated based on risk.

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