Robert Farley
By Robert Farley January 5, 2010

More money in budget for first responders

In fiscal year 2010, Congress provided $650 million for the Urban Areas Security Initiative to increase cities' preparedness and emergency response capacity. This was $21 million more than Congress appropriated in 2009, but $15 million less than Obama's budget request. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security added two new urban areas to the initiative.

Congress also provided an overall increase in key state and local government first responder assistance for public safety preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, according to James E. Philipps, a spokesman for the National Association of Counties, which tracks first responder funding. In fact, he said, Congress appropriated around $230 million over the president"s budget request for these key programs in the final 2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. Specifically, these programs include the State Homeland Security Grant Program to plan, equip and train local first responders to respond to terrorist attacks and catastrophic incidents; the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program to help high-risk urban communities prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks; the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Grant Program; the FIRE Grant Program (including funding for SAFER, a program that helps local agencies hire staff for fire and emergency response); and the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program for state and local emergency managers.

"All in all, President Obama and members of Congress have supported sustained funding for first responder preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery," Philipps said.

Obama promised more funding for first responders, and he and Congress provided more funding. We rate this one Promise Kept.

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