On October 21, 2021, Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska) and Rep. Val Demings (D-Florida) introduced the Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act, H.R. 5615. “The bipartisan legislation,” as explained in a recent Homeland Security Today article, “would direct the Department of Homeland Security to review past disbursements under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), then to create a plan to continue federal anti-terrorism support for UASI-funded homeland security capabilities that keep people safe in these communities.” In other words, it would expand funding to urban areas previously designated as potential targets.
The UASI program, which falls under the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), assists high-threat, high-density urban areas in efforts to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism. Since its inception in 2003 (post 9/11), the program has provided high-profile, high-density areas, including the cities of Orlando, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York, millions of dollars for terror-prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises. The FY20 allocation for UASI, according to FEMA, was $615,000,000.
As anticipated, the bipartisan Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act is endorsed by numerous organizations across the country. Among them are the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), the National Association of Counties (NACo), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), to name a few.
Regarding the Act and in testimony before the Committee, Orlando Police Chief, Orlando Rolon, explained that for local law enforcement who are “on the front lines of responding to an emergency… FEMA preparedness grants are critical resources that bolster law enforcement’s ability to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and other associated threats.”
Passage of the Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act has the potential to increase the number of jurisdictions participating in the UASI program (it’s presently about 30, which is about half of what it was in FY 2011) as well as future annual funding allocations. And this may have a significant impact on your jurisdiction’s preparedness efforts for years to come.