The New Jersey congressional delegation wants answers from the Trump administration about the proposed cuts of funds to fight terrorism in the state.
All 14 members elected from New Jersey authored a letter questioning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decision to reduce funding to the state for the Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) preparedness grant programs.
The delegation noted the recent terrorist attacks in Jersey City demonstrate the potential danger to New Jersey and regional communities has not abated. The letter notes the burden of responding to emergencies fall almost entirely on local first responders and their regional partners. As such, SHSP and UASI funding provide critically needed resources to equipping first responders with the tools and training to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters.
“As the most urbanized state in America, New Jersey and our cities rely on the federal support provided by these programs to strengthen their emergency preparedness and protect the daily threats our communities face. Consequently, we have serious questions on the recent changes to the funding allocations for grant recipients, including the use of national priorities,” the letter states.
The letter specifically questions:
- Is this the first time DHS has issued a range of funding allocations for SHSP and UASI?
- An explanation of why DHS chose cybersecurity, soft targets and crowded places, intelligence and information sharing, and emerging threats as four critical national priority areas for attention in the FY20 grant cycle.
- Detail which individuals at DHS decided to implement these new restrictions as well as list any other outside agencies or parties DHS consulted in making changes.
The amounts being offered would be the lowest in the last seven years. In the upcoming budget, New Jersey is only eligible to receive between $6.2 million and $7.7 million in SHSP funds, a 23% decrease from Fiscal Year 2018, while UASI funding declined 33% to between $15.2 million and $19.1 million from $22.8 million for the same time period.
“As you know, funding determinations to keep our communities safe should not be made with politics in mind. As representatives from the most urbanized state in the country, we thank you very much for your time and attention to this important matter,” the members’ letter concludes.
The letter is signed by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D), Josh Gottheimer (D), Mikie Sherrill (D), Albio Sires (D), Donald Payne, Jr. (D), Christopher Smith (R), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D), Donald Norcross (D), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D), Andy Kim (D), Tom Malinowski (D) and Jeff Van Drew (R).