Press Releases

Senate Approves Major Intelligence Overhaul

Legislation Includes Carper Provision to Ensure At-Risk States Receive Adequate First-Responder Aid

Oct 07 2004

WASHINGTON (Oct. 6, 2004) – The U.S. Senate today passed 96-2 sweeping intelligence reform legislation that would help prevent the kind of missteps and missed opportunities that contributed to the failure to detect and prevent the 9-11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., praised the legislation, which closely tracks the recommendations of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, and urged lawmakers in both the House and Senate to work together to craft a compromise bill that can be sent to the president’s desk this fall. The House is expected to vote on its intelligence reform bill this week. “One of the reasons why September eleventh occurred in the first place is our intelligence network clearly failed us,” said Carper. “Today, the Senate responded to the 9/11 Commission's call for sweeping change to our intelligence system. This bill will improve the coordination of our nation's spy agencies, and it will make the United States and all Americans safer.” The legislation represents the most important overhaul of our nation's intelligence community since the Central Intelligence Agency was created in 1947. Following the advice of the 9-11 Commission, the bill would create a National Intelligence Authority headed by a powerful national intelligence director with budgetary and personnel control over most of the nation’s spy agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency. The intelligence director would be the president’s chief intelligence adviser and require Senate confirmation, but would lack Cabinet rank. The bill would also create a National Counterterrorism Center, which would collect information on terrorist threats from all sources in the intelligence community and use it to uncover terrorist plots by "connecting the dots." It would also be charged with planning operations aimed at preventing such attacks. During the bill’s consideration, the Senate unanimously accepted an amendment, authored by Carper and Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would rewrite the rules governing homeland security grants to ensure that risk, not just population, is used as the prime factor when determining a state’s share of federal first-responder aid. The amendment would protect small states, like Delaware, that may not be very populous but are home to various high-risk infrastructures, such as chemical and nuclear plants, ports and other important sites. Under current law, funding under the State Homeland Security Grant Program is distributed somewhat arbitrarily, mostly on a per-capita basis. That formula has come under attack by many states, especially larger or more at-risk states, which argue that they aren’t receiving the federal dollars they deserve. In its recent report, the 9-11 Commission agreed, saying the current grant formula doesn’t direct the federal government’s scarce homeland security resources to the states and localities that need them the most. The commission called on Congress to create a new formula based on an assessment of threats and vulnerabilities that considers both population and the presence of critical infrastructure. Carper and Collins worked together for more than a year to produce a compromise grant formula that would ensure that big states get the money they need to protect their populous areas, and small states that have higher risk factors, like Delaware, also receive their fair share of federal aid. “Right now, federal dollars aren’t going to places that need it most,” said Carper. “No one disputes that we should be spending more homeland security money in places like New York or Washington, D.C. But we have to remember that terrorists aren’t just looking to strike the big cities. Delaware may not be the most populous state, but we have real security concerns. This amendment protects the interests of Delawareans, and makes sure that our state can continue to rely on the federal government to help protect our chemical plants, our ports and our bustling financial center in Wilmington.” Specifically, the amendment would: -Institute a new and fair formula for homeland security grants by focusing on BOTH population and security risks. Populous states would receive more money under the amendment, but smaller states, like Delaware, would also be eligible for more funding so that they can address vulnerabilities identified in their state homeland security plan or by the Department of Homeland Security.

-Maintain the “small-state minimum,” which guarantees that all states receive some homeland security funding.

-Give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to distribute a portion of each year’s grant funding directly to large cities like New York or Washington, D.C.

-Make the grant program more user-friendly. Grant states more flexibility to determine where federal money can be spent.

-Call for an interagency review of all homeland security-related grant programs to ensure coordination and reduce duplicative requirements.