New York City

NYC to Republicans: Stop playing chicken with Homeland Security funding

Funding set to expire Saturday; Could affect Sandy payments

February 24, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
At Laguardia airport on Tuesday, Reps.  Steve Israel (D-Huntington), Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) called on the GOP to “stop playing politics with Americans’ safety” and allow funding to go through for the Department of Homeland Security. Photo courtesy of the Office of Hakeem Jeffries
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New York City officials called on the GOP to “stop playing politics with Americans’ safety” and allow funding to go through for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — the government agency responsible for the security of our country’s critical infrastructure, borders, airports and ports.

DHS is facing a shutdown at midnight on Saturday unless a new funding bill is passed. But Republicans have added a rider to the funding bill that would prevent the enforcement of President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration, bringing the bill to a dead stop in the Senate.

Officials say thousands of employees are facing furlough. Thousands more — those considered critical to national security — may be forced to work without pay until the mess is straightened out. These include TSA employees at airports, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service.

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On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that he was “very concerned” about the funding shutdown. “This should be something that is above the partisan fray. This is literally a matter of protecting our nation. And I am going to remain hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and this will get resolved by the end of the week,” he said.

Regarding recent threats made by terrorists against shopping malls in American cities, the mayor said that every threat should be taken seriously.

“Everywhere in the world, NYPD and our intelligence division is constantly monitoring and making adjustments in our approach all the time. That being said, we do not have a specific and credible threat directed at New York City right now.”

On Tuesday at Laguardia airport, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) called on the GOP to “stop playing politics with Americans’ safety.”

“Once again, the GOP is taking our nation on a collision course that will damage the safety and security of the American people at a time when terrorists across the world are determined to do us harm. It is reckless and irresponsible,” Jeffries said.

“The American people want us to focus on bigger pay checks, good-paying jobs and strengthening the middle class,” he added. “Let’s get back to doing the business of the American people and fund the Department of Homeland Security.”

“A fully funded Department of Homeland Security is vitally important to ensuring the safety of New Yorkers and Americans across the country,” U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement Tuesday.

“While there are strong opinions on both immigration and national security, that debate cannot interrupt our ability to protect our nation.”

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is being funded by a continuing resolution. That continuing resolution expires Saturday.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said during a press conference Monday that without funding, some 75 to 80 percent of employees would be forced to come to work without pay, and 30,000 employees, including headquarters’ staff, would be furloughed.

“Overall, a shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland,” he said.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the funding shutdown would have “real impacts our ability to support the recovery from Sandy, Katrina, the Colorado floods, you name it, because our ability to continue to pay and the rebuilding of those disasters will be delayed or postponed, and it will not be made up.”

Fugate added that FEMA would not be able to respond to governors’ requests for disaster assistance unless it involves life-saving and property, and only under an emergency declaration. If an emergency were to occur, staff would have to be recalled, leading to delays in getting assistance to the site.

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