Real Homeland Security Starts on Our Streets
More than a decade later, the events of 9/11 are still very much present in the public consciousness. One group that has been particularly impacted by the post-9/11 world is our first responders and public safety officers. They have had to adapt to face the challenges of a changed world, and I have fought hard in the Congress for increased support in their efforts to protect us.
During my tenure in Congress, I have authored and sponsored numerous bills in support of our first responders including the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act, which was signed into law in 2000 by President Clinton and has been widely successful in meeting the needs of America’s fire departments. I also authored another piece of legislation entitled the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act, which requires universities to issue annual fire safety report to their enrolled and prospective students.
As an original member of the House Homeland Security Committee, I have lobbied for more federal dollars and security grants for New Jersey’s public safety officials. In particular, I have pressed for a risk-based funding formula and for increased funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which addresses the unique security needs of urban areas. I have also championed the UASI Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides support to vulnerable non-profits, including houses of worship and synagogues in New Jersey, to protect against terrorist attacks.
Additionally, I repeatedly opposed efforts to destroy the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which puts more police officers in our schools and on our streets, and the FIRE Act, for fire departments, securing amendments that have saved over $1 billion in funding for these vital programs over the last four years. I also have fought to ensure that the high chemical security standards in New Jersey will not be superseded by any less stringent federal regulations.
Every day we put our lives in the hands of our nation’s first responders. This is a huge responsibility to bear and a job of utmost importance. They deserve the best resources and protection that the federal government can provide, in order to protect our communities.