February 02, 2018

Gillibrand Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging Appropriations Committees To Include Adequate Funding For Critical Department Of Homeland Security Science And Technology Laboratories In Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Bill

Laboratories Have Been a Critical Resource for Law Enforcement and First Responders Since 9/11 ; Senate Appropriations Bill Does Not Fully Fund Three Department of Homeland Security Laboratories

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today sent a letter with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress urging the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to fully fund three Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Laboratories: the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL), the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC), and the Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC). The three laboratories have played a critical role in protecting the United States since the attacks of 9/11, and each laboratory has a unique homeland security mission. NUSTL, based in New York, is a central federal resource that develops and deploys homeland security technologies for law enforcement, fire, and other emergency responders to use in the field. These laboratories have received full funding in the House of Representatives FY 2018 Appropriations Act, but the Senate has not fully restored funding in its version of the bill.

Gillibrand was joined by U.S. Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Durbin (D-IL), Booker (D-NJ), Cardin (D-MD), and U.S. Representatives Donovan (R-NY), Delaney (D-MD), King (R-NY), Rice (D-NY), and Ruppersberger (D-MD).

“This funding is critical to supporting our first responders and federal agencies with the technology and training necessary to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks,” the Senators and Representatives wrote. “The weapons of terrorists and their delivery mechanisms are constantly evolving, and protecting the American public from modern terror threats requires the unique resources and expertise found at the NUSTL, NBACC, and CSAC. That is why funding these laboratories is an investment in U.S. homeland security interests and the safety and effectiveness of our first responders.”

The New York City Police Department has worked with NUSTL for over 12 years on a variety of projects, such as the testing of radiation detection equipment, active shooter exercises, and developing and evaluating the equipment of first responders. NBACC provides law enforcement with resources to protect against biological terrorist threats and handles some of the most deadly pathogens in the world. CSAC serves as a resource to prepare federal, state, and local governments with information and resources for best response in the event of a chemical spill or other event.

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

The Honorable John Boozman

Chairman

Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jon Tester

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Carter

Chairman

Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairmen Boozman and Carter and Ranking Members Tester and Roybal-Allard,

As you negotiate a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Homeland Security appropriations bill, we urge you to fully fund three Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Laboratories: The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC); the Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC) and the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL). This funding is critical to supporting our first responders and federal agencies with the technology and training necessary to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. The weapons of terrorists and their delivery mechanisms are constantly evolving, and protecting the American public from modern terror threats requires the unique resources and expertise found at the NUSTL, NBACC, and CSAC. That is why funding these laboratories is an investment in U.S. homeland security interests and the safety and effectiveness of our first responders.

            Confirmed reports of increased missile, chemical, and biological weapons activities from hostile state actors heightens the importance of these facilities. NUSTL conducts tests, evaluations, and assessments of first responder technologies though lab and field-testing services, particularly concerning radiological emergencies. NBACC is a secure, Biosafety Level 4 facility that characterizes and analyzes biological threats to provide bioforensic analysis in support of federal law enforcement. CSAC is the nation’s only federal management center for assessing large scale chemical events, and is a resource for federal, state, and local officials. This is not the time to be cutting back on our emergency response capacity.

            The House FY 2018 DHS appropriations bill fully funds these labs at $76.4 million, but the Senate version does not include any funding. Additionally, the House requires DHS to refrain from any final decisions to close the labs until Congress acts. We request that the final appropriations bill include the House funding level and direction on the future of the labs to maintain the critical national security support and services offered.

Sincerely,