Higgins Named To Homeland Security Committee

January 21, 2011 Updated Jan 21, 2011 at 2:52 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Higgins Named To Homeland Security Committee

January 21, 2011 Updated Jan 21, 2011 at 2:52 PM EDT

( release ) This week, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) was selected by the House Democratic Caucus to serve on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“I am honored to have been appointed to serve on Homeland Security Committee, positioning our border community in the forefront of national discussions and helping to advance the Peace Bridge project and improve our border operations to strengthen economic ties with our Canadian neighbors,” said Higgins, a member of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus. “Moreover, with a position on the Committee with jurisdiction over FEMA, I will continue to fight against unfair, outdated flood maps and for relief when communities like Silver Creek, devastated by flooding, and Buffalo, hit by the October Storm, are overwhelmed by natural disasters.”

In addition to the Peace Bridge and FEMA, the Homeland Security Committee has jurisdiction over such issues as the Fire Grant Reauthorization Act. Higgins was an original co-sponsor and strong supporter of the Fire Grants program and aggressively pursues federal funds for local fire companies, which has delivered over $13.164 million dollars to fire departments in his district over the last 5 years, more than double the amount awarded on average to each district. Higgins was also a strong supporter of the more recent legislation supporting 9/11 first responders dealing with ongoing health issues.

“I am pleased to welcome Rep. Higgins to the Committee on Homeland Security. Coming from 27th District of New York, he is well versed in many of the security challenges we face as a nation, including securing our northern border and protecting our critical infrastructure,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee. “In addition to representing a district on the Canadian border, Rep. Higgins understands the importance of intelligence and information sharing with our Canadian partners to combat terrorism. I look forward to working closely with him on these very important homeland security issues this Congress.”

Congressman Higgins previously joined current Homeland Security Chair Rep. Peter King in rallying against cuts to Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding from the Department of Homeland Security. UASI provides funding for the unique equipment, training, planning, and exercise needs of 46 select high threat urban areas, including Buffalo and New York City.

“Congressman Higgins is a welcome addition to the Committee on Homeland Security,” King said. “Brian and I have previously worked together on a number of issues important to New York. I now look forward to working closely with him on critical homeland security issues. The fact that Brian represents the northern border region will give the Committee valuable insight.”

Congressman Higgins was also appointed to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, a timely appointment given the existing conflicts in the Middle East and ongoing relations with China whose currency policies deeply affect the American economy. Just this week, Higgins sent a letter to President Obama with 80 of his colleagues about the need for drastic changes to the economic policies of the Chinese government. With a deep interest in U.S. foreign policy, Higgins has traveled extensively through some of the most volatile regions in the world and has met with world leaders to promote peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Africa, including Darfur. Locally, Higgins advocated for the new passport office in Buffalo to make travel abroad easier for residents in Western New York.

Higgins served on the Ways & Means Committee from 2009 through 2010, stepping down this month due to a change in the ratio of committee seats. He will maintain his seniority on the committee and rejoin it when seats become available. He served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee Government & Oversight from 2005 through 2008.