Congress boosts homeland security funding; move could mean more federal funds for LB

Under the federal government’s omnibus appropriation bill Congress passed last week, cities and states will benefit from major increases in Homeland Security funding that the city of Long Beach can apply for.
The bill Congress passed provides a total of $3.961 billion for all Homeland Security programs for fiscal year 2008 (FY 08). Key city and state programs increased by almost $850 million from FY 2007 (a 24-percent increase), with major increases in the areas of port security, interoperability and transportation. The overall numbers are more than $1.9 billion more than requested by the Administration for FY 2008.
“I applaud the bold steps that Congress has taken to increase funding for Homeland Security to meet the pressing security needs that we have in Long Beach,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster.
Most notably, Congress did the following:
• The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) increased $35 million from last year and was funded at $205 million over the President’s requested amount. UASI is a key grant program for the City of Long Beach, which is a member of the Los Angeles-Long Beach Super UASI.
• The Port Security Grant Program was fully funded for the first time at $400 million, providing additional grant opportunities for the Port and city of Long Beach. This is the Port of Long Beach’s primary grant source for Homeland Security.
• A new $50 million Interoperability Grant Program has now been established, which will help Long Beach and Los Angeles County fund strategies to develop interoperable radio communications.
“Increasing Homeland Security funding for local governments has been one of the City’s top federal priorities,” said Gary DeLong, Chair of the City Council’s Federal Legislation Committee that lobbies on behalf of the city in Washington, D.C. “We are pleased that additional resources will be available next year that Long Beach can apply for to help keep our community safe.”
In 2007, Long Beach planned to use previously awarded Homeland Security funds (such as the 2006 UASI program) primarily for public safety training and exercises, developing plans and protocols and purchasing interoperable radio equipment, with a focus on protecting the city’s assets and resources, protecting public health, continuing interoperability communications efforts and enhancing regional intelligence sharing.
The funding Congress approved bankrolled FY 08 programs, and the Homeland Security Department is expected to announce specific funding decisions and grant criteria in 2008.

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