Bacon’s bill increases federal funding for terrorist-targeted urban areas

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) on Oct. 19 introduced legislation that would expand federal funding to urban areas designated as potential targets for terrorist attacks.

Rep. Bacon is the lead original cosponsor of the bipartisan Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act, H.R. 5615, which would direct the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review past disbursements under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and then create a plan to continue federal anti-terrorism support for UASI-funded homeland security capabilities in these communities.

“Keeping Americans safe from all threats, both foreign and domestic, is a top priority of mine,” said Rep. Bacon, who added that H.R. 5615 would direct DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency “to assess UASI capabilities and ensure federal assistance is made available for these anti-terrorism law enforcement programs, especially in urban areas, which are potential targets for terrorist attacks.”

Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the newly formed DHS started distributing federal funds to urban areas under the UASI grant program to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities in designated high-threat, high-density areas, according to information provided by Rep. Bacon’s staff.

Specifically, the UASI provides funding to help with terror-prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas that could be targeted. The congressman pointed out that Omaha has not received UASI funds since fiscal year 2010, leaving the city more vulnerable and unprotected. 

“As a retired brigadier general and Air Force veteran, I believe that if another terrorist attack like 9/11, a natural disaster, or worldwide pandemic occurs, our first responders, nonprofits, and other public safety personnel must be equipped to protect our citizens and preserve our communities,” Rep. Bacon said.

H.R. 5615 is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who said that previous experience in Orlando has shown that critical public safety funding can be inconsistent, leaving important programs without necessary support. 

“This new legislation would provide much-needed stability and peace of mind to emergency planners across Florida, who will rest easier knowing that when they begin a new initiative to keep Floridians safe, they will be able to sustain those efforts,” she said.

The Fraternal Order of Police, Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Fusion Center Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, and the United States Conference of Mayors support H.R. 5615.