Reduction in New York's security aid is a blow to city and to Rep. King
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, isn't mincing any words on what he thinks of how the Bush administration is dividing up homeland security money in next year's federal budget.
"It's no good for New York, and there is no good explanation for it," says King. "There's no good spin I can put on it. The grants for next year will be what they have announced. I don't think it's politics as much as it's incompetence in the department."
What has King so upset is that the total funding for homeland security going to New York City - still believed to be the No. 1 target of terrorists - has been reduced by 40 percent from the current fiscal year. Even more a slap in the face is that the slice of the total federal funding pie that New York is receiving has been reduced from about 23 percent to 16.7 percent.
This just doesn't make sense. A city such as Chicago, which has a small number of its police force devoted to homeland security - King says it's a total of four - got a bigger percentage share than New York, which has about 1,000 cops working on the project. And cities such as Louisville, Ky., Omaha, Neb., and Charlotte, N.C., got big increases.
But there is an irony here as well. King has generally supported the Bush administration, especially on its commitments to cut taxes, even if that increases the federal deficit. But one of the reasons the overall program for homeland security is being cut back is the administration's determination to reduce discretionary spending in order to lower the deficit.
The department says it had a team of law enforcement experts help make the determination. One complaint was that New York has not been specific enough about how it would spend the money. But King and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also a Republican, have heatedly disputed that contention.
"As far as I'm concerned, the Department of Homeland Security and the administration have declared war on New York," said King. "It's a knife in the back to New York, and I'm going to do everything I can to make them very sorry they made this decision."