Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (NY-3) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-18) today called on President Obama to request robust funding in his Fiscal Year 2012 budget for anti-terrorism and homeland security programs critical to the safety and preparedness of the New York City metropolitan area.
"Democrats and Republicans who represent the metropolitan area of our nation's most at-risk city understand the need to support our public safety workforce and invest in the training and equipment necessary to prevent and respond to emergencies," said Lowey. "Even in these difficult economic times, President Obama's 2012 budget must request funding levels sufficient to meet the needs of our nation's top terror target."
"It's clear that we have to bring federal spending under control," said King, "but we cannot afford to shortchange our homeland security needs, particularly those of New York City, which remains al Qaeda's top terror target. Since 9/11, New York City has been the target of at least 11 failed or foiled terror plots, a number far greater than any other place in this country. It is imperative that the Obama Administration continue funding critical homeland security programs."
Congressman Peter King is the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. Congresswoman Nita Lowey is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, where she is the sole New Yorker on the Homeland Security Subcommittee.
President Obama's Fiscal Year 2012 budget request is due to Congress February 14th.
Full letter text:
Dear President Obama:
As you finalize your Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal, we urge continued robust funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect against future terrorist attacks.
While these are difficult economic times, as the sole New York representative on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, we cannot stress enough how critical it is for DHS to continue to address the real, evolving and continuous threat our region -- the top U.S. terror target - faces.
Last year's attempt by Faisal Shahzad to detonate explosives in Times Square was yet another reminder that continued funding for the Securing the Cities program is vital to not only the security of the New York City region but to our nation as a whole. In the event of a dirty bomb attack in the New York City area, the ripple effect and economic consequences throughout the nation would be catastrophic.
A continued federal, state and municipal collaboration in protecting the homeland is absolutely imperative. We urge you to maintain substantial funding for the state homeland security grant program, urban area security initiative, and assistance to firefighter grant programs, which help bolster our law enforcement and public safety workforce and training.
This past October's Yemen cargo plot underscores the importance of enhancing our cargo screening procedures for both cargo on all cargo aircraft and air cargo entering the United States on passenger aircraft. We hope that sufficient funding is requested for enhancing air cargo security.
Similarly, the Transportation Security Administration's efforts to detect and deter terrorist activity among air passengers is vital to aviation security. We must continue to invest in the most advanced technologies available and adequately train transportation security officers to the highest levels of professional standards. Any reduction in funding for the purchase and deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology machines or Federal Air Marshals would create a security vulnerability, putting air travelers at substantial risk.
Further, your Fiscal Year 2011 budget request eliminated the Coast Guard's Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) based in New York City. The New York MSST is located near the financial center of the United States and is a multi-mission counterterrorism unit that conducts waterborne patrols around the United Nations, monitors the entrance to New York Harbor around the Verrazano Bridge, and boards and searches high interest or especially dangerous vessels approaching the region. The proposed elimination of the New York MSST was rejected by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and we urge you to continue funding for the New York based MSST in FY 2012.
While we recognize the serious constraints in developing a Fiscal Year 2012 federal budget proposal, it is imperative the budget fully support our national security requirements, including homeland security. We stand ready to work with you to do everything possible to address our homeland security needs in the coming year.