Funding Increased for First Responders Training, Dec. 5, 2001

(202) 224-7082

Domenici: Defense Committee Approves Huge $11.5 million Increase for First Responder Training at New Mexico Tech

WASHINGTON, D. C., Dec. 4, 2001 -- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today reported success in getting significant new funding to support domestic preparedness training funds for the First Responders training program carried out at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

Domenici is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that today approved the FY2002 Defense Appropriations Bill, along with a $20 billion “September 11 emergency response” supplemental appropriations package to boost national defense and homeland security, and another $15 billion supplemental package promoted by Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) for domestic spending needs.

The First Responder funds are included in the $15 billion Byrd supplemental package. The Byrd package, not requested by the Bush Administration, faces serious budgetary challenges when it reaches the Senate floor and a veto threat from Bush.

Domenici worked to support a big increase overall for the First Responder program. New Mexico Tech and its three partners in First Responder training will each receive an $11.5 million increase to greatly expand their ability to train communities in responding to emergency or terrorist situations.

“This is a huge increase and a solid vote of confidence for the First Responder program and those doing the training. New Mexico Tech is providing outstanding training for this program, and our expectation for its continued success has only risen since the terrorist attacks in September,” Domenici said. “While the Byrd package faces problems on the Senate floor, I am hopeful that we can sustain increased funding for the First Responders program in the final supplemental bill that is sent to President Bush later this month. The $11.5 million for New Mexico Tech is a good start.”

The $11.5 million in supplemental appropriations would be, if ultimately enacted, in addition to the $3.5 million already provided for the New Mexico school through the FY2002 Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary (CJS) Appropriations Bill. President Bush signed the CJS bill in late November.

The school stands to have a total of $15 million in FY2002 for First Responder Training, which is $10.5 million more than the $4.5 million it was provided in FY2001 for this work. The training is provided through New Mexico Tech’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center.

New Mexico Tech prepares first responders such as firefighters, law enforcement, medical and other emergency personnel to respond to potential acts of terrorism, including chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

“With over 17,000 law enforcement agencies and a comparable number of fire departments operating in the United States, we know the need is great for this type of First Responder training,” Domenici said.

The $317.2 billion FY2002 Defense Appropriations Bill, with the supplemental package, next goes to the full Senate for consideration.

“I believe the American people see the funding of our national defenses as a primary priority for Congress. We’ve set the Senate on a good course for meeting that expectation,” Domenici said.

New Mexico Tech was one of the four institutions tapped for the first responder training effort as part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). Other NDPC partners include Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, and the Nevada Test Site.