Donovan Slams Obama Homeland Cuts
Washington, DC—March 15, 2016….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, today held a hearing examining the impacts of President Obama’s proposed homeland security grant cuts. The President’s budget would slash $559 million from security programs that help cities and states protect against and respond to terrorist attacks. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among the witnesses testifying in opposition to the proposed cuts.
Congressman Donovan said, "The President's dangerous proposal leaves our country exposed when the threat level is the highest it’s been since 9/11. Either he 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 – the Urban Areas Security Initiative – dedicated $180 million to New York City’s counter-terror efforts last year. If enacted, the President’s budget would cut New York’s share in half, hamstringing the City’s work to prepare for and respond to future attacks.
In his prepared testimony, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio explained, “We cannot afford as a city or a nation to reduce our commitment to public safety at a time when threats are increasing – in both number and complexity.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson previously described UASI funds as “very important” to the country’s “vital homeland security mission.” CIA Director John Brennan recently said attempted ISIS attacks on the homeland are “inevitable.”
Mayor de Blasio appeared before Donovan’s subcommittee to testify to the vital programs funded by UASI in New York City. For example, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) dedicated UASI funds for a counter-terror helicopter specially equipped to detect radiological weapons on inbound ships. UASI also funds the NYPD’s 500-officer Critical Response Command, a full-time counter-terror unit. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) uses UASI funds to prepare for active shooter scenarios.
A second panel of witnesses comprised of emergency response personnel from other parts of the country predicted similar impacts to their terrorism response capacities if President Obama’s cuts aren’t reversed. Mike Sena, President of the National Fusion Center Association, called the President’s proposal “shocking” and warned the cuts “would wipe out many of the gains in terrorism prevention capabilities that have been built since 9/11 at a time when the threat picture…has never been more dynamic.”
Congress will act on the President’s budget proposal during the appropriations process over the coming months. Donovan committed to working with both parties to vigorously fight the President’s cuts.
Donovan concluded, “Homeland security shouldn’t be a partisan issue. 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. Protecting our country is government’s most basic and important responsibility, and it’s one I’ll continue to focus on as subcommittee chairman.”
The Honorable Bill de Blasio
City of New York, New York
Mr. Jim Butterworth
Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security
State of Georgia
Testifying on behalf of the National Emergency Management Association
Ms. Rhoda Mae Kerr
City of Austin Fire Department
Testifying on behalf of the International Association of Fire Chiefs
Mr. George Turner
Chief of Police
Atlanta Police Department
Testifying on behalf of the Major Cities Chiefs
Mr. Mike Sena
Northern California Regional Intelligence Center
Testifying on behalf of the National Fusion Center Association
Sgt. W. Greg Kierce
Office of Emergency Management
Homeland Security City of Jersey City, New Jersey