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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KING of New York. I thank the gentleman from Alabama for yielding.

Let me just at the outset commend him for his professionalism and his courtesy throughout this entire process, and also for the effort that he made to preserve the Secure the Cities program in the Homeland Security bill. Having said that, I must reluctantly oppose the bill in its current form.

Mr. Chairman, the threat level is the highest in our country since 9/11. That has only been increased since the death of Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden specifically stated, we find in his documents, that he wanted to attack mass transit, wanted to attack maritime shipping. Yet we are reducing our mass transit security funding by 50 percent. We are reducing our port security funding by 50 percent. We are reducing overall aid for Homeland Security grants, which was the purpose for which the Department was created. We are reducing that by 50 percent. This, I believe, is putting us at risk.

I can speak, for instance, for New York. We have 5 million people, 5 million passengers every day on our subway system, hundreds of thousands on the commuter lines; yet we are cutting security by 50 percent. We have a thousand police officers working on counterterrorism, carrying out a Federal purpose, doing not what they were doing before September 11, but working entirely on counterterrorism and intelligence. Yet their funding will be significantly cut.

We have the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is going to provide a camera system of protection in the Lower Manhattan area. And I can go through program after program. Every penny is accounted for. And I would say that as we go forward, as we look to the future, it's important that cities and governments have some sense of continuity of where the funding will come from as they put their programs in place. To have a 50 percent cut this year is going to put us at a severe disadvantage.

And as we do approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, do we really want to cut our police departments, our counterterrorism units, our intelligence units, our mass transit security, our port security by 50 percent? To me, this is an invitation to an attack. We cannot put ourselves in that position. Because of that, despite my great regard for the chairman, I must reluctantly oppose this legislation.

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