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Quigley, Nadler, Roybal-Allard Lead Bicameral Letter Calling on the Biden Administration to Protect UASI Funding

Jan 28, 2021
Press Release

Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) led a letter to incoming DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to request that the Biden administration reject the proposed changes by the Trump administration’s FEMA that threaten to divert funding in the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) away from cities that rely on the funds to keep Americans safe. Under the proposed new procedures, there will be no guaranteed minimum allotments for cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles for the first time. Without committed funding streams for this program, many of UASI’s prevention and recovery initiatives may be shut down permanently. The letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and 41 House and Senate Democrats.

Since its inception following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the UASI program has been effective for directing homeland security funds where they are most needed: our nation’s highest-threat metropolitan areas. Cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles face complicated threat environments and it is crucial that we provide our cities with the funding they need to invest in safety-related resources. The UASI program was created to assist urban areas in their efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism, making it absolutely necessary to maintain functioning and funding for the UASI program to keep our cities safe.

The Members write, “The danger to our urban areas has not gone away, yet funding for this important grant program hangs in the balance. Failure to maintain a strong and functional UASI program threatens to undermine the successful federal investments we have made in regional homeland security capacity over the past decade. We, therefore, urge you to reject, or at the very least delay, these proposed changes prior to the issuance of a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to consider alternate proposals that will more effectively keep our cities safe.”

A PDF copy of the letter is available HERE and the text of the letter is included below:

Secretary-Designate Alejandro Mayorkas
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary-Designate Mayorkas:

We write today to express our serious concerns regarding the abrupt changes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proposing to the Homeland Security Grant Program’s (HSGP) Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) for the FY2021 Fiscal Year. As Members that represent cities that rely heavily on UASI funding to keep their citizens and our nation safe, we ask that the Biden Administration reject these substantial changes for FY21 prior to the issuance of a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) in order to ensure the uninterrupted functioning of programs that depend on UASI funding and to continue collaborative deliberations on how best to distribute UASI funding in the future.

Since its inception following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the UASI program has been the most effective vehicle for directing homeland security funds where they are most needed: our nation’s highest-threat metropolitan areas, state capital cities, and government buildings. Cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles face complicated and ever-changing threat environments and it is crucial that we provide our cities with the funding they need to invest in resources to keep Americans safe.

UASI funds historically have been important for providing first responders the equipment and training they need to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. Much-needed UASI-funded equipment includes upgraded security measures like cameras, physical barriers, and controlled entry systems. Additionally, UASI has been responsible for increasing regional public safety cooperation and coordination between local, state, and federal first responders.

The proposed changes by the Trump Administration’s FEMA make the UASI program a competitive ‘free-for-all.’ Under these proposed new procedures, there will be no guaranteed minimum allotments for the first time. Without committed funding streams for this program, many of UASI’s prevention and recovery initiatives may be shut down permanently. Additionally, the number of cities eligible for this funding have dramatically increased, resulting in less money available for high-risk and densely populated cities.

The danger to our urban areas has not gone away, yet funding for this important grant program hangs in the balance. Failure to maintain a strong and functional UASI program threatens to undermine the successful federal investments we have made in regional homeland security capacity over the past decade. We, therefore, urge you to reject, or at the very least delay, these proposed changes prior to the issuance of a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to consider alternate proposals that will more effectively keep our cities safe.

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you on this important matter.