WASHINGTON – After facing a 25 percent cut,the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston,Ala.,will receive full funding for the 2009 fiscal year,which starts Wednesday.
Congress approved the continuing appropriations bill,which allocates $62.5 million for the center.
The House voted 370 to 58 Wednesday to approve the bill. The Senate passed the bill 78 to 12 Saturday. Now the bill goes to President Bush to be signed. The White House has not objected to the bill.
The appropriations bill also gives the Anniston Army Depot $1.4 million to construct an ammunitions storage facility.
Opened in 1998,the CDP trains first responders from across the nation to respond to terrorist attacks and other disasters. The center is the only weapons of mass destruction training facility that offers hands-on training to civilians using live chemical agents.
When President Bush's budget was released in February,it called for a $15.5 million decrease in funding for the CDP. Rep. Mike Rogers,R-Ala.,sent a letter to Michael Chertoff,secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,criticizing the cut.
Kathy Wood,spokeswoman for the center,said in an e-mail that the CDP would have adjusted its program to provide the same services if its budget had decreased.
“The need for the type and quality of training the response community expects from the CDP would not be diminished,” Wood said. “It's our responsibility to meet this need as best we can under the funding level decided by the appropriations process.”
Rogers,who sits on the Homeland Security Committee,said in a statement that the center provides a valuable service to the nation.
“I am pleased that Congress has once again recognized its importance for helping train our first responders,” Rogers said.
Rogers' Democratic challenger,Josh Segall,said he is very supportive of the CDP funding,but said he thinks Rogers has not done enough to support the center.
Segall said Rogers has little influence in the House,which hurts state programs that face budget cuts.
“We have huge economic potential,and we are held back by Mike Rogers,” Segall said.
Segall said he thinks Sen. Richard Shelby,R-Ala.,did more to protect the CDP funding.
Shelby,who is a member of the Appropriations Committee,said he worked with Rogers to make sure the DHS program received full funding.
“I have a seat at the table to do what's best for the security of my country,” Shelby said.
The center provides a vital service by training civilians such as firefighters and emergency medical technicians to handle WMDs and chemical agents,he said.
Shelby said the president's proposed cut in the CDP does not matter in the long run because Congress has final say over funding.
“They're generally dead on arrival when they come to Congress,” Shelby said. “I've never seen the Congress adopt the president's budget.”