U.S. House Approves Funding for State and Local First Responders
Washington DC- The House raised funding for state and local first responders to $20.8 billion through the Homeland Security Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2004 (H.R. 2555). Oklahoma's Tom Cole praised the House for its efforts to help the police, fire and emergency medical personnel in combating terrorism at the basic level.
"These first responders are the first on the scene and selflessly place their lives in harms way to protect the public daily," Cole said. "We need to make sure they can effectively do their job without worries of budget constraints."
The House provided $29.4 billion to the Department of Homeland Security in this year's appropriations bill. Included in the funding is $4.4 billion earmarked for state and local first responders, through grants, programs and technical assistance. Total funding for first responders has swelled from $2.5 billion in 2002 to $20.8 billion today.
From last year's funding, Oklahoma received millions of dollars in Homeland Security grants, most recently a $22 million grant. Given from the Office for Domestic Preparedness, the grant will fund first responder preparedness and to offset the costs of enhanced security during future periods of heightened threat.
When the national threat level is raised to Orange, or High, critical infrastructure facilities, such as the State Capitol and other national landmarks, require additional security to prevent a terrorist attack.
Cole said this grant, along with future grants, would provide essential security in the state, without having to worry about the state budget crisis.
"Oklahomans know all too well the tragedy a terror attack can bring to the community," he said. "This will help Oklahoma remain at the forefront of emergency preparedness."