Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, submitted the following statement to the House Committee on the Budget for the hearing on "Budgeting for America's National Security":
"I would like to take the opportunity to thank Chairman Ryan for holding this hearing regarding the National Security budget. I also thank the Chairman, Ranking Member Van Hollen, and Members of the Committee for considering my statement and including it in the record.
"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has warned that our Nation is currently at its highest level of a terrorist threat since September 11, 2001. We must work to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security is receiving sufficient funding to keep our Nation safe.
"Homeland Security is National Security. When Secretary Napolitano testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security on March 3, 2011, she stated, "The demands on DHS have never been greater and the threats we face pose new challenges that require an innovative and focused response." According to Attorney General Eric Holder, during 2009 and 2010, 126 people were indicted for terrorist attacks, 50 of which were U.S. citizens. This week, on July 5, 2011, the Justice Department issued an indictment against Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame who is charged with providing material support to the terrorist group, al Shabaab. Also this week, new threats to aviation security were reported, which should remind all Americans how important airport security truly is.
"There are imminent terrorist threats to our Homeland, and this Congress has a primary responsibility to the American people to protect the Homeland and ensure the proper funding to address any possible security threats.
"In assessing the most important budgeting priorities, we must first look to Federal grant funding for our local and state law enforcement partners in regions of the highest security risk. In the budget put forth by this Committee, and the subsequent Fiscal Year 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, grants including the Urban Area Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grant Program, the Transit Security Grant Program, the Port Security Grant Program, and other grant programs for emergency communications systems and emergency medical response were cut by 50%, from nearly $2 billion to $1 billion. Such cuts jeopardize our security and make our Nation less safe.
"As your Committee rightfully gives great importance to funding our Armed Forces fighting terrorism overseas, we must not become complacent at home. As a Representative from New York, my constituents know first-hand the tragedy of a terrorist attack and the heroic work of our first responders. Although we must reduce spending and shrink the deficit, we must avoid cuts to these critical grants that would severely weaken our Nation's ability to defend against future plots.
"Budgeting sufficient funding to protect our Homeland will not only protect the lives of Americans, but prevent the devastating economic harm that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"Chairman Ryan, I again commend you for holding this important hearing. I trust that you and our colleagues who serve on the Budget Committee will agree that decreasing funding for Homeland Security, as we prepare to reflect on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will put our country at risk and is not in the best interests of the safety and security of the American people. I look forward to working with you to address the challenges ahead."