Cuts to State and Local Grants

March 16, 2017–The Trump administration today proposed to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from grants to state and local programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The administration’s budget “blueprint” did not provide many details, but a  summary of the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget said that it “[e]liminates or reduces State and local grant funding by $667 million for programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that are either unauthorized by the Congress, such as FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, or that must provide more measurable results and ensure the Federal Government is not supplanting other stakeholders’ responsibilities, such as the Homeland Security Grant Program. For that reason, the Budget also proposes establishing a 25 percent non-Federal cost match for FEMA preparedness grant awards that currently require no cost match. This is the same cost-sharing approach as FEMA’s disaster recovery grants. The activities and acquisitions funded through these grant programs are primarily State and local functions.”

The proposal to cut state and local grants drew criticism from Democrats in Congress and a less than enthusiastic response from Republicans. “Inexplicably, the President’s budget slashes proven FEMA anti-terrorism grant programs and leaves high-risk surface transportation infrastructure vulnerable by imposing cuts to TSA and law enforcement support programs,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D., Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee. “The President needs to go back to the drawing board before submitting his final budget request and return to Congress with a plan that is realistic, actually keeps us safe, and doesn’t decimate the government.”

Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D., N.J.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee’s emergency preparedness, response, and communications subcommittee, said, “President Trump’s ill-conceived proposal to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA state and local grant funding is further proof that the president has no idea of what it takes to protect this nation. These grants have been crucial to developing effective emergency preparedness and response plans for terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Cutting them to this extent will undo the progress we’ve made and leave our infrastructure, and our communities, vulnerable.”

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said,  “Gutting the Justice Department and Homeland Security Department grant programs for state and local law enforcement is self-defeating if we’re going to protect national security. Local law enforcement is on the front lines and works closely with federal law enforcement and intelligence community partners to protect Americans.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas), said, “It is important to keep in mind that the President’s budget proposals are just the beginning of the negotiation process with Congress. As Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will work with the Trump Administration and my colleagues to make sure our counterterrorism and cybersecurity programs, first responders, and those protecting our land, sea, and aviation sectors have the funds they need to defend our homeland and our citizens.”

Rep. Dan Donovan (R., N.Y.), chairman of the emergency preparedness subcommittee, called the budget blueprint “step one in the negotiating process. Congress has the power of the purse and will make final funding determinations. My position on the critical importance of consistent security funding for New York City hasn’t changed since President Obama’s proposed cuts last year. I remain committed to fighting to protect resources for the world’s top terror target.”

“We need to see more details of the President’s full budget when it comes out later this year. However, we are concerned with the magnitude of these proposed cuts when one considers that the Urban Areas Security Initiative was funded at $600 million for FY 2016 and the State Homeland Security Grant Program was funded at $467 million for FY 2016,” said John Sinclair, president and chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “Federal grants play an important role in helping local fire departments prepare for potential terrorist attacks through information sharing, planning, training and equipment. A large cut could denigrate the National Preparedness System in the future.” – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily