DHS cuts N.Y. funds as Obama visitsBy Maggie Haberman
May 13, 2010
President Obama arrives in lower Manhattan Thursday afternoon to thank the NYPD for its heroic in an attempted Times Square bomb – but the photo-op may not go according to plan.
The Department of Homeland Security told congressional officials Wednesday that it's moving to make cuts in anti-terror funding to New York City, less than two weeks after cops helped thwart and attempted car bombing in Times Square – an effort the White House has since pinned on the Pakistani Taliban.
The cuts, lawmakers were told, amount to about 25 percent for port security, and another 27 percent for transit security, according to several reports.
It "just makes no sense at all, particularly in light of recent events," Sen. Charles Schumer told cable station NY1's "Inside City Hall." "The worst nightmare we probably face is some kind nuclear device placed in a container in the ship in the harbor and exploding....we need all the help we can get."
Schumer criticized the cut, but didn't blast the president - saying Obama understands the need for the funds and blaming Washington bean-counters.
The actual scope of the cuts wasn't immediately clear, but the move drew instant backlash from top New York lawmakers and presented poor optics for the president on the eve of his trip.
King said there were suggestions in December that the cuts would be deep, but that the final figures were revealed today in briefings.
"It's absolutely disgraceful," he said. "This was bad news...what we can do, though, is press DHS as much as we can."
Mayor Bloomberg demurred when asked about the cuts by reporters, saying he hadn't been officially informed of anything. But the mayor has been among the chief advocates for maintaining anti-terror funding levels to the city.
On May 1, the NYPD - responding to a street vendor's observation that an abandoned SUV in Times Square was smoking - intervened in the attemped bombing, which Attorney General Eric Holder last Sunday said was aided by Pakistani Taliban.
Tomorrow afternoon, after a stop in Buffalo, Obama is set to make a visit to the NYPD's headquarters in lower Manhattan to applaud the police for their work.
DHS insisted there was more nuance than being described by some officials, and that there are actually additions to other programs that even out the apparent cuts.
“DHS is actively engaged in supporting New York City's first responders and overall preparedness for acts of terrorism and other disasters through an array of grant programs. In 2009, DHS awarded more than $457 million to New York City to prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other threats," officials from the agency said in a statement.
"The Recovery Act appropriated $300 million for Port and Transit Security Grant Programs, more than $100 million of which went to the New York City area. In FY 2010 Congress subsequently appropriated fewer dollars for Port and Transit grants as a result of dollars already provided under the Recovery Act.”
One official said that between Recovery Act funds and transit security grants, the net gain to New York would be $47 million over last year.