NYC’s Democratic mayor, Republican congressman join forces over Homeland Security cuts
De Blasio and Donovan agree: Cuts bad for NYC, country
One is a progressive Democratic mayor, and the other is a Republican representing conservative Bay Ridge and Staten Island.
Yet the two officials – Mayor Bill de Blasio and Congressman Dan Donovan – joined forces on Tuesday to fight President Obama’s proposed homeland security grant cuts.
Donovan, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, invited de Blasio to speak at a hearing examining the impacts of the proposed cuts.
“Homeland security shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Donovan said in his prepared remarks. “It’s disappointing that the president would propose slashing this funding in such dangerous times, but I expect both parties to come together to reverse the proposal.”
De Blasio praised Donovan, who replaced Congressman Michael Grimm following his conviction.
“I want to thank Chair Donovan for inviting me to speak before the subcommittee. I want to thank him for his leadership. He’s clearly doing all he can to get these cuts restored and get us our fair share,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio: Cuts would threaten Wall Street and the U.N.
The President’s budget would slash $559 million from security programs that help cities and states protect against and respond to terrorist attacks, according to Donovan’s office.
De Blasio, saying terror threats were increasing, testified that the cuts would jeopardize not only the safety of 8.5 million New Yorkers and nearly 60 million tourists each year “but also will threaten security for the world’s epicenter of economic finance and foreign relations – Wall Street and the United Nations.”
He told reporters that New York City’s security funding would be cut by 50 percent — an amount, he said, which would “fundamentally undermine the safety of New Yorkers, and would be counterproductive for our whole country.”
The NYPD, over the span of 15 years, has thwarted 20 different terrorist plots, de Blasio added.
In his own testimony, Donovan said that the country was experiencing the highest threat level since 9/11. “Either [President Obama] doesn’t believe terrorists will continue targeting America or he’s playing budget games with the funding that keeps us safe. Either way, it’s unconscionable.”
One of the largest security programs affecting the city – the Urban Areas Security Initiative – dedicated $180 million to New York City’s counter-terror efforts last year, according to Donovan’s office. If enacted, the President’s budget would cut New York’s share in half.
The NYPD uses UASI funds for a number of security-related items, including a counter-terror helicopter equipped to detect radiological weapons on ships. UASI also funds the NYPD’s new 500-officer Critical Response Command, a full-time counter-terror unit. In addition, FDNY uses UASI funds to prepare for active shooter scenarios.
Countering the claims that the city hasn’t yet spent the money it already received for security, de Blasio said, “Continuity over time is vital to keeping us safe. Preparations require planning. For example, our counter-terrorism assets such as ambulances, helicopters and fire boats were carefully designed and built for our needs.”
Congress will act on the President’s budget proposal over the coming months.
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