Daily News - $3.8 Trillion Federal Budget Deal Murky, but New York City Gets Security Relief

News Article

By:  Pete King
Date: April 10, 2011
Location: Unknown

The last-minute federal budget deal kept the city's federal employees at work and its national parks open Saturday - but details of the massive spending cut remained murky.

Lawmakers remained mostly in the dark about the agreement between Republican and Democrat leaders that prevented the national government from going dark but will slash $38 billion in federal spending.

As congressional staffers hammer out the deal's specifics, some local legislators ripped the agreement even as others expressed relief that some key funding - including for security - was saved.

"We are definitely better off now than we were before," said Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), who received word of the proposed funding for transit and port security.

Originally, the Republican leadership in Congress proposed slicing port security funds from $288 million to $95.5 million. But it will now only be trimmed to about $260 million, according to the tentative numbers presented to King, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

The budget for security for subways and commuter trains will also receive a smaller cut than first proposed, King said.

President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the total $3.8 trillion deal late Friday night. A short-term funding measure will keep the government running until Thursday, which will give Congress time to approve a budget for the remainder of the year.

The city's 10 national parks and historic sites - including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Grant's Tomb - remained open thanks to the deal. Additionally, thousands of federal employees will return to work tomorrow.

Obama exulted in the agreement, making a surprise visit to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to greet tourists.

"Because Congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today," Obama said. "And that's the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward."

However, the long-term ramifications of the deal worried the city's Democratic congressional delegation - all of whom voted against the budget.

"I'm relieved like everyone else that the government didn't shut down, but from what I've seen of the deal, I don't like it very much," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens).

Weiner believes the city will lose funding for things like public housing and infrastructure improvements and suggested the Democrats failed to present their priorities in the talks.

"The Republicans and the Tea Party in particular are defining what they want in these fights much better than we are," said Weiner. "We're not providing a good enough alternative vision, so all we're doing is fighting their bad ideas."

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