Pascrell Sounds Alarm on DHS Shortchanging New Jersey Security Support
FEMA proposal would deny state of critical funding to protect against terror, other threats
PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today raised strong objections to a notice issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announcing that New Jersey would be eligible for less FY2020 funding in the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) than it received in the previous year. The SHSP provides federal assistance to address identified planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events. UASI provides similar federal assistance to high-density urban areas against terrorism.
Under guidelines issued by FEMA, New Jersey will only be eligible to receive between $15.24 million and $19.05 million in UASI funds, well below the $20.05 million the state was awarded in FY2019 and at a time of increased myriad threats to urban centers. New Jersey will only be able to receive between $6,153,600 and $7,692,000 in SHSP funds, below the $7,993,000 the state was awarded in FY2019.
“I am deeply disturbed by the Trump administration’s proposal to cut back New Jersey’s access to anti-terrorism security grants,” said Rep. Pascrell, one of Congress’s leading champions of equipping communities against threats. “As the most urbanized, densely populated state in the union, this change is particularly perilous. It has been less than two months since Jersey City – one of the very areas this change would negatively impact – was attacked by domestic terrorists. At a time of rising domestic extremism, now is not the moment to shortchange our communities. Incredibly, these funding restrictions hit New Jersey harder than neighboring regions. One more time, the Trump administration has seemingly put a bullseye target right on the Garden State’s back. I am going to work with my colleagues to make sure New Jersey doesn’t get the short end of the stick in protecting our neighbors.”
In the House, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader demanding strong funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative since the program was created while Pascrell was an original member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. In April 2019 he joined with 69 of his Democratic and Republican colleagues calling for UASI to be funded at $887 million.
Rep. Pascrell has also been the leading advocate in Congress for increased federal efforts to combat domestic extremism. In December, Reps. Pascrell and Peter King (R-NY-02) led a letter calling for the Non-profit Security Grant Program to be funded at $90 million, citing “the rise of hate groups in our nation, the record of threats facing members of our community, and the FBI’s continued concern about domestic violent extremism.” One week after their letter, the requested funding was passed by the House. In January, Reps. Pascrell and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05) held an interfaith event with religious leaders, law enforcement, and cultural groups to highlight the need to combat hate in our communities. In November 2019, Pascrell, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a roundtable town hall discussion in Garfield with members of law enforcement, elected officials, and religious leaders in an effort to hold a dialogue with the public about the rise in domestic extremism. In September, Reps. Pascrell and Gottheimer met with state officials and local law enforcement for a briefing on the threat of homegrown violent extremists in New Jersey.