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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2017, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act

Location: Washington, DC


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

At the outset, let me say I am proud to vote for this rule because it is an open rule, and I commend the Speaker for doing this. It's really an important step forward, I believe, in the history of this House.

Let me say also that, very reluctantly, in its current form, I will have to vote against final passage of this bill. I say this because we are at a stage now where the threat level, the homeland security threat level is the highest it's been since September 11. The killing of bin Laden has only made that worse. We know also from bin Laden's own records that he is aiming at maritime, he is aiming at mass transit, and he is aiming at our major cities. Yet we are cutting each of those programs by 50 percent, a fifty percent cut.

Now, I can speak for New York in that I can tell you we have a thousand police officers. We have a Lower Manhattan security initiative. We have radiation detection. I can go through a whole list of programs. Every dollar in those programs can be accounted for. And I just cannot see why, at a time when the threat level is the highest it's been since September 11, that we are reducing Homeland Security grants by 50 percent.

The Department was set up in the aftermath of September 11 to fight terror, yet those grants are being reduced. And I know there is anecdotal evidence that this program isn't working, that isn't working. I would say specify what's not working, but don't take a meat axe. Don't cut across the board the way it's being done here. We're talking about human life. We're talking about just a terrible threat to our cities, terrible threat to our ports, terrible threat to mass transit.

And for those--and I understand the need to cut. I understand that need tremendously. Having said that, even from my strictly budgetary point of view, you have one dirty bomb go off in one subway in Boston, New York, or Chicago, and apart from the tragic loss of human life, apart from the tragic loss of human life there will be incalculable economic devastation, which will also cost billions and billions of dollars of lost revenue and jobs and have a terrible impact.

I lived through September 11. I know what it did to New York. I know the impact it had then. I don't want any other city, any other area in the country to go through that again. And yet we're reducing our defenses at a time when they are most needed.

So with that, I would just ask all the Members to give Chairman Rogers the credit, give Chairman Aderholt the credit, but unfortunately I have to vote against this.

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