King vows to press for homeland security businessBy JAMES BERNSTEIN
October 28, 2010
If Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday's elections, a member of Congress from Long Island could control the powerful Homeland Security Committee, which oversees about $52 billion in federal spending, including hundreds of millions of dollars to hire private companies.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), now the committee's ranking minority member - he chaired the committee in 2005 and 2006 when Republicans controlled the House - told a breakfast meeting hosted Thursday by the Long Island Association in Woodbury that he is not happy about the Department of Homeland Security outreach - or lack of it - to the private sector.
"The department has not been aggressive enough" in that regard, King told the group. "They will have to reach out more" to the private sector. King, who is seeking his 10th term in Congress, said after his speech that he would arrange meetings between Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Long Island companies.
Homeland security is seen on the Island as one way companies here can prosper in the wake of the collapse of the defense industry here more than a decade ago.
But the path has been difficult, with competition keen from many other regions of the country.
Frank Otto, president of the new Morrelly Center for Homeland Security in Bethpage, said hundreds of Island companies play a role in making information-technology equipment for the government but many would like to play a larger role.
King's opponent in the race, Democrat Howard Kudler of Merrick, criticized King. "He's got . . . nerve coming four days before the election trying to pitch homeland security business," Kudler said. "Where has he been for the last nine years. Why now?"
In a statement, Homeland Security said Napolitano "has made engagement with the private sector a top priority," partnering with airlines, utility companies and technology companies.
But King told the gathering: "I will be more than willing to work with any of you to find opportunities for homeland security work."