New Jersey is a “9-11 State.” Over 700 of our friends, neighbors and family members never returned home to our state that horrendous day. Knowing the impact the attacks of September 11, 2001, had on so many of our families, I strongly believe that there is no higher priority for Congress than ensuring all of our families, neighborhoods, schools and businesses are safe.
That is why I will continue to fight to provide full support for our police officers, firefighters, first aid squads and first responders.
As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I have worked to provide funding for interoperable technologies in Morris, Sussex, Essex and Passaic Counties to these first responders. In the event of a natural disaster, widespread criminal activity, or a terrorist threat, law enforcement officials and first responders from different areas need to be able to communicate with one another. Interoperable equipment allows them to do so.
At my urging and, following the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, the Department of Homeland Security has changed the complicated and irrational way federal homeland security funds have been distributed to high-threat, high density areas since September 11, 2001. Greater focus on risk and vulnerability increases the likelihood that New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country, will receive more security funds to protect our citizens, airports, seaports, tunnels, and bridges.
In addition, I led the fight in Washington for the state’s elite urban search and rescue team, New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1), to join the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) system.
I also continue to advocate for fortifying our nation against a possible bioterrorism attack and better securing our ports, tunnels, mass transit lines, and road networks.
To protect our ports, it is absolutely necessary that our government know exactly who is in charge of securing our ports, managing our terminals, and what cargoes are moving in and out of our nation. With this in mind, I have introduced legislation requiring all federal port security grant programs to be permanently distributed according to “risk”, as opposed to political judgments.
These efforts extend to the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program. Since 2003, the State of New Jersey received over $600 million to focus on emergency planning involved in high-density urban areas.
As an advocate for greater security in the northern New Jersey/New York Metropolitan Area, I have taken several additional steps to strengthen our homeland security, including:
- Authoring the Smarter Funding for All of America’s Security Act, which strictly adheres to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for changing the federal homeland security funding formula to address critical infrastructure, population density and unique security risks in New Jersey and other high threat areas.
- Authoring legislation requiring all maritime port security grants to be distributed according to “the risks and vulnerabilities of ports and the proximity of ports to critical infrastructure or urban or sensitive areas.”
- Successfully fighting to ensure New Jersey’s high threat, high density areas, including large portions of the 11th Congressional District, receive their fair share of security funding under DHS’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).
- Since 2002 I have introduced legislation to include New Jersey’s Task Force One – a team of very specialized, highly trained, well equipped responders – as part of FEMA’s National Urban Search and Rescue system. I continue to communicate with DHS officals, including Sec. Jeh Johnson, to urge DHS' support.
- Fighting for more grants to support our county and municipal law enforcement, EMS and fire fighters.
- Supporting the United States Coast Guard.
- Working with our hospitals- Chilton Memorial Hospital, Morristown Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Clare’s Health System, and St. Barnabas Health Care System as well as the Lyons and East Orange Veterans Center to assure that those facilities have what they need in case of a regional or homeland emergency.
- I recognize that our first responders are our first line of defense and I support them strongly, monitoring their preparations and staying in contact following disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and 2011’s Halloween snowstorm.