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American Shipper

Democrats want $400 million for port security grants

Democrats want $400 million for port security grants

   Senate Democrats have included $190 million more for port security grants in their budget resolution than President Bush has in his budget request. The Democrats plan to fund port security grants to the tune of $400 million, the amount authorized in last year’s SAFE Port Act.

   Port authorities and some security analysts have complained that the grant program that helps them invest in security measures is underfunded. Congress appropriated $210 million for port security grants in the current fiscal year.

   Democrats are also trying to increase the overall budget for the Department of Homeland Security. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has proposed $3.4 billion funding above the administration’s request for DHS.

   Most of the increase would go to help first responders, but he would also increase:

   • Rail and transit security grants by $225 million, for a total of $400 million.

   • Transportation Security Administration’s air cargo screening program by $25 million; total $80 million.

   • Chemical security by $25 million; total $50 million.

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