Tristate push for dirty-bomb alarmsby Michael Mcauliff
October 1, 2009
WASHINGTON - An unusual tristate alliance of lawmakers is mounting a last-ditch appeal to rescue $40 million New York City needs to finish building its defense system.
In a letter sent to House and Senate leaders, the 42 legislators from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are calling for the funds to be approved.
The government has been investing in radiation detectors and other measures for the last three years to guard the city from someone trying to sneak in a dirty or nuclear bomb.
But the White House requested zero funding for the effort in next year's budget, and left it up to Congress.
The House passed the needed cash - $40 million for the Securing the Cities anti-nuke program, and another $10 million to help protect other ports in the nation.
The Senate, though, only passed $10 million, and New York would have to compete for it. The New York region lawmakers are urging the Senate to accept the House version.
"If we spent $73 million already, it makes absolutely no sense not to spend the final $40 million to get the job done," said Long Island Rep. Pete King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.
Some federal officials are dubious about the effectiveness of the program, but King and the others feel it is a model that needs to be finished, and finished first in New York.
"New York City is the No. 1 terror target in the world," King said. "The nightmare scenario is a dirty bomb being brought in from the suburbs or the outer boroughs, and this radiation detection system is absolutely necessary to save the lives of thousands of people."