Jul 28, 2003
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC - Democratic Members of Congress have begun distributing an unprecedented survey to elected officials and front-line homeland security workers in their districts to determine the level of terrorism preparedness in municipalities throughout the country. The Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security has stated that America's hometowns need standards of preparedness, and this survey will help develop those standards. The nationwide effort is the first Congressional survey of local security needs.Members of the Democratic Caucus began distributing the survey at the end of last week. The survey, authored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Chair of the Task Force, and Rep. Robert Menendez (NJ-13), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is based on the fundamental homeland security questions: "Are we doing all we can to secure our hometowns?" and "What do our hometowns need?"

"It's about more than just funding," said Rep. Maloney (NY-14). "It's about finding out whether the bridges and ports in our hometowns are being secured, whether police and firefighters have enough HAZMAT suits to respond to chemical attacks, and whether the cargo containers that pass through our hometowns have been inspected.

"We need to know where we've improved security since 9/11 and where it's still like Swiss cheese. If our families and communities are vulnerable to terrorist attacks because of holes that have never been patched, we better know that."

"With this survey, we are hoping to identify what Americas' frontlines -- our cities, counties, and states -- require to prepare for possible future attacks. Democrats continue to lead on homeland security issues, and, once again, call on this Administration, and this Republican-led Congress, to provide the tools necessary to help our local first responders and governments secure our families and communities," said Rep. Menendez (NJ-13), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "Unfortunately, the Republican record is one of over promising and under funding. We will fight to improve the federal government's responsiveness and engagement at the local level. Rep. Maloney and Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Jim Turner (TX-02) have been effective leaders on homeland security within our Caucus, and I look forward to my continued work with the Select Committee and the Task Force on Homeland Security."

The Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security has recently been actively focusing on local security needs. In late June, it convened a three-panel hearing with local officials and front-line workers to get a sample of local preparedness across the country. Members of the Democratic Caucus will hold local versions of that hearing in their districts during Congress's August recess.

Earlier this month, the Council on Foreign Relations, led by former Senator Warren Rudman, released a detailed report that called emergency responders underfunded and unprepared for terrorist attacks - findings that corroborated the witness testimony at the Task Force's hearing.