GOP plan to cut security funds draws flakBy JAMES BERNSTEIN
May 18, 2011
Long Island business and political figures are taking aim at a 2012 bill by Republicans in the House of Representatives that cuts funding for homeland security programs only days after data captured in the killing of Osama bin Laden surfaced showed the terror master planned attacks on railroads and small cities in the United States.
The organization that oversees the Morrelly Center for Homeland Security in Bethpage issued a statement early Monday morning saying it is "questioning the judgment" of Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee's homeland security subcommittee, who last week slashed funding by $1.1 billion, or 2.6 percent, from the 2011 figure, providing $3 billion less than funding requested by President Barack Obama.
Frank Otto, president of the Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security, which oversees the Morrelly Center, said he hopes "cooler heads" prevail later in the federal legislative session. But there is no guarantee.
"The [Republicans] are using a rationale that we haven't spent the money that is already out there," Otto said, referring to $13 billion in funds for first-responder programs. "A lot of those funds are long-term," he said. "You don't spend it all at once."
Republicans on the subcommittee say their bill provides $40.6 billion for homeland security in fiscal 2012, and the money "puts taxpayers' precious, but limited, dollars toward the security programs that will have an immediate impact" on the nation's security. State and local grant programs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be cut, but more money would go to Customs and Border Protection.
But Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is angry, saying his colleagues on the subcommittee are "tone deaf" and he plans to fight the cuts. "My nightmare is [an attack] on the rail and commuter lines," King said.
The Senate is writing its own homeland security bill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) is lobbying to include additional funding, aides said.