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Senate Clears First-Ever Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idahoâ??s Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo hailed final Senate passage this week of the first-ever appropriations bill for the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS), by unanimous voice vote. This is the first fiscal year 2004 appropriations Congress has sent to the President for his signature.â??This is an historic time as Congress and the President have put in place a coordinated, focused strategy to make our borders more secure and our people safer in a post-September 11 world,â?? Craig said. â??We are shouldering new responsibilities, and taking a whole new look at some of the governmentâ??s old responsibilities, to defend our homeland and its citizens against terrorism at home and abroad. From beefing up our borders to helping local firefighters and other first responders, the rubber meets the road in this bill. It has been important to act promptly on these priorities, to get the people â?? including 570 new Border Patrol agents â?? policies, law enforcement, and incentives in place that will secure our borders and combat terrorist and criminal alien activity.â??Crapo said, â??I commend the Senate for adopting this important conference report. There is arguably no more important duty for our government to perform than defending our borders, securing our homeland, and safeguarding our families and children. This measure is critical to helping provide the resources necessary for all levels of government, from our first responders to our police and firefighters to our strategic planners. I look forward to the Presidentâ??s speedy enactment of the legislation.â??Craig serves on the subcommittee that wrote the bipartisan bill and is one of the only two Senators who serves on both the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee and the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.Crapo serves on the Senate Budget Committee, which sets the budget priorities for the fiscal year. This year, the Budget Committee provided the funds requested by the President for homeland security. Crapo is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over many emergency response programs that will benefit from this measure.Included in the legislation are national programs for border and transportation security, counter terrorism activities, the Coast Guard, and developing a comprehensive plan for the physical and cyber protection of critical infrastructure. The bill would establish a science and technology program to combat chemical, biological, and other possible terrorist threats. It would also provide formula grants for state and local governments to use for training, equipment and other activities to improve the readiness of first responders such as police, fire and rescue personnel. The bill also continues a separate Firefighter Assistance Grants program for local departments.The President is expected to sign the bill within the next few days.# # #