WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today urged the House Republican majority to pass a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year.

“Our country can't afford to keep stumbling from one manufactured crisis to another,” Himes said. “The Department of Homeland Security is absolutely vital to our nation’s security – we must not allow it to shut down. A short-term funding extension will delay critical grants for Southwest Connecticut’s first responders, police and firefighters, while exacerbating the uncertainty for the agencies that lead our counterterrorism efforts and protect our borders and airports. I urge the Republican leadership to stop the political theater and pass a clean Homeland Security funding bill without further delay.”

Himes joined every House Democrat in cosponsoring clean legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the fiscal year, and he has repeatedly voted to force the majority to allow an up-or-down vote on the measure. Today, the Senate passed the long-term funding measure, but the House Republican leadership refused to call it up for a vote. Instead, just hours before a potential shutdown of the agency, House Republicans called up legislation to extend funding for just three weeks, a measure Himes opposed and which failed by a bipartisan vote of 203 to 224.

The vast majority of fiscal 2015 grants issued by the Department of Homeland Security have not yet been awarded because the agency has been operating under a continuing resolution. Under a short-term extension or in the event of a shutdown, the grants will remain on hold. This includes grants awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with ongoing recovery efforts following Superstorm Sandy.

In addition, many of Fairfield County’s police, firefighters and first responders will have to wait even longer to purchase essential equipment, protective gear and emergency vehicles. While the grant allocations differ from year to year, the grants awarded to Connecticut communities last year provide an estimate of how much funding has been put on hold this year. In 2014, Connecticut received about $5 million in Emergency Performance Grants, which fund state and local emergency management programs, often including salaries. Connecticut also received approximately $4 million through the State Homeland Security Grant Program, which helps state and local agencies protect against, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism and other disasters.

Connecticut's fire departments rely on funding through three key Homeland Security grant programs to keep our firefighters safe: the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) and Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S). In Fairfield County last year, Norwalk, Trumbull, Shelton and Bridgeport together received a total of almost $400,000 in AFG funding for safety equipment.