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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I rise today in vigorous opposition, and with very deep concern, to an amendment offered by the Senator from Oklahoma that would prohibit Urban Areas Security Initiative, or UASI, funds from being used to be able to pay local public safety employees overtime and backfill pay.

I share the Senator's commitment to ensuring that homeland security funds are spent wisely. I believe his efforts are in good faith, and I am eager to work with him toward this goal. However, as the threat from al-Qaida has metastasized to the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere, there are still terrorists whose objective is to inflict wide-scale harm to Americans on our homeland.

New York City remains the No. 1 target for terrorists around the world who want to do us harm. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and continue to provide local law enforcement with all the tools necessary to keep us safe. So as well-intentioned as this amendment may be, law enforcement organizations across the country have been loud and clear: This is simply the wrong prescription at the wrong time.

This amendment is opposed by a range of law enforcement and first responder organizations, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Firefighters, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs' Association, the National Fusion Center Association, the National Homeland Security Coalition, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In fact, I have a letter from our Commissioner Kelly that I ask unanimous consent be printed in the Record, along with another letter.

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Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Under the leadership of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, 16 publicly known terrorist attacks on our city have been thwarted since 9/11. Our local law enforcement must continue to have every tool available to them to remain one step ahead of terrorists at every single turn. Even at a time of fiscal restraint in Washington, protecting our families from the unimaginable should not be a place where we make cuts.

According to Police Commissioner Kelly, this amendment would ``jeopardize our collective efforts to safeguard New York City ..... '' and that ``without a doubt, the overtime and backfill funding that the NYPD uses to support investigations, training and deployments is essential to the NYPD's layered approach to security.''

I ask my colleagues to stand with local law enforcement officials, to stand with the American public who have given us the duty to protect them. I urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment because, if passed, this amendment will put the training and security deployments needed to keep us safe in jeopardy. These are not esoteric programs. We are talking about programs that include counterterrorism training, region-wide planning exercises designed to prepare emergency responses to large and catastrophic events, and boots-on-the-ground security measures, including heavy weapons training and intelligence sharing.

These overtime funds actually reduce costs. If the NYPD needed to hire full-time officers or assign current full-time efforts to the specialized patrol and intelligence duties described, they could not afford to do so.

So while I commend my colleagues for attempting to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money, these are cuts that our families cannot afford. We have a solemn duty to protect the American people. That should be our first priority in this body. I ask each and every Member of this body to ask themselves how history will judge them if we fail to live up to that duty.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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