House Votes to Base Terrorism Preparedness Grants on Risk

The U.S. House of Representatives on May 12 approved a key 9/11 Commission recommendation that calls for homeland security funds to be allocated based on risk.

The House approved the legislation, H.R. 1544, the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act of 2005, 409 to 10.

"This new law will get Federal assistance to first responders when and where it is needed. At the same time, it will ensure that homeland security spending is directly related to national security preparedness, and not political pork," said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox (R-CA). "Approval of this bill is directly responsive to the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that homeland security grants be based on risk."

The Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act was first introduced by Cox in October 2003. Subsequently, the 9/11 Commission echoed the bill in its recommendation that political formulas for distributing homeland security funds give way to allocation based on risk. The act further requires the establishment of measurable preparedness goals to guide homeland security grant awards and the way that first responders apply them.

First responder funding represents 11 percent of the Department of Homeland Security's budget. For 2006, the Bush administration has requested $2 billion for homeland security assistance to state and local first responders.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testified to the Committee on Homeland Security on April 13, 2005, that he intends to make prioritization of spending based on risk a priority of the department.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved related legislation on April 13, 2005. Following Senate floor action on the bill, a House-Senate conference will reconcile any differences before Congress sends a final bill to Bush later this year.

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