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Lawmakers Slam Proposed Homeland Security Budget Cuts

Lawmakers from New Jersey and New York are battling against more than $1 billion in potential homeland security funding cuts in the next federal budget, Homeland Security Today reported on Tuesday (see GSN, Feb. 18).

The House in June approved fiscal 2012 legislation that would drop appropriations for the Homeland Security Department by $1.1 billion from present levels.

The $42.3 billion bill slices in excess of $2 billion from the Obama administration's request for port and transit security grant programs, financial assistance for metropolitan areas considered to be at high risk for terrorism and related efforts.

Homeland security grants for state and local operations would drop no less than $1.5 billion from this budget year and funding for the Urban Areas Security Initiative and similar grant programs would be placed in a single $1 billion funding pot.

The situation did not sit well with members of Congress from two states adjoining New York City.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, do we really want to cut our police departments, our counterterrorism units, our intelligence units?” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.).

“Al-Qaeda remains determined to strike the U.S. again,” added Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “Yet just weeks after reports that hand written notes from Osama bin Laden were found in his compound targeting our rails, the Tea Party Republicans in the House slashed funding for rail security. The Republican cuts to homeland security funding are reckless and dangerous for New Jersey, and I’m going to fight in the Senate to defeat them.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to consider the House legislation. Fiscal 2012 begins on October 1 (Liza Porteus Viana, Homeland Security Today, July 12).

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