5/19/2011 — 

WASHINGTON, DC –Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation is urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reconsider cutting the Providence metro area from the list of eligible cities for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). 

At the insistence of House Republicans, last month Congress cut $784 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) fiscal year 2011 budget.  As a result, DHS today announced that Providence is among 31 of the 62 UASI cities nationwide that will lose anti-terror funding.

In 2007, the greater Providence area was designated to be one of the 62 cities most “at risk” of being targeted by terrorists.  As a result, Providence received $5.17 million in 2007; $5.05 million in 2008; $4.76 million in 2009; and $4.76 million in 2010 (for a total of $19.7 million) to support efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and other emergencies.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline issued the following joint statement: “This is a tough budget environment, but we are asking the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider and reverse this decision.  We need to make targeted investments, but cutting programs to train and equip emergency management and first responders is shortsighted and wrong.”

The delegation also asked DHS for a briefing on the matter.  A copy of the delegation’s letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano follows:

May 19, 2011

Dear Secretary Napolitano:

We are writing to request reconsideration of your decision to cut Providence from the list of eligible cities under the Homeland Security Grant Program’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

For Fiscal Year 2011 the Department will distribute $662,622,100, “to address the unique planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas, and assist them in building an enhanced and sustainable capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism.”  While we understand that this a significant cut from Fiscal Year 2010 funding levels, we believe that the removal of Providence from the list of eligible cities under UASI is a mistake. 

Rhode Island’s population of over 1,000,000 residents live in an area of only 1,000 square miles, making the state the second most densely populated in the country.  Approximately 90 percent of the population lives in urban areas, and Providence, the state’s capital, is the second largest city in New England.  The population density of the state as well as its critical location on the Eastern seaboard with major transportation corridors that link the state to Boston and New York place it at risk for terrorism.  Moreover, the Providence area is a center of national Naval and maritime importance that plays a critical role in supporting our national security. 

As such, we urge you to use the discretion granted to you to reconsider this matter.  We also request a briefing, at the earliest opportunity, on how the funding allocations were determined, what changes were made to funding formulas implemented for FY11, what changes to the risk assessments were used to determine UASI eligibility for FY11 as compared to the previous five years, and what other data or factors were used to determine eligibility for FY11 UASI funding.  Thank you in advance for your timely attention to this matter. 

Sincerely

Senator Jack Reed

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Congressman James R. Langevin

Congressman David N. Cicilline

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