Congress is moving towards passing a Homeland Security budget that will restore $270 million in funds for the Urban Area Security Initiative in the 2017 budget, back to the 2016 funding level of $600 million, Senator Chuck Schumer announced on Thursday.
Since February, Schumer fought against President Barack Obama’s proposed 2017 budget — which reduces funding to the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which helps cities to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism, from $600 million in 2016 to $330 million in 2017 — calling it a “punch in the gut” to local law enforcement on anti-terror missions.
Schumer’s criticism was rejected by the White House as hypocrisy. Press Secretary Josh Earnest charged that Schumer has lost his credibility on the issue after voting against the Iran nuclear deal. “Senator Schumer’s credibility in talking about national security issues — particularly when the facts are as they are when it relates to homeland security — have to be affected by the position that he’s taken on other issues,” Earnest told reporters at the time. “Senator Schumer is somebody that came out and opposed the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He was wrong about that position. And most Democrats agreed — disagreed with him in taking that position.And when people look at the facts here when it comes to funding for homeland security, they’ll recognize that he’s wrong this time, too.”
On Thursday, ahead of a vote by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, Schumer took a subtle swipe at the White House. “From the moment these ill-advised cuts were proposed, we earnestly worked to overturn them,” Schumer said in a statement. “We successfully pushed to fully fund the vital anti-terror programs, like UASI, that help keep New York City safe in an era of rising and mutating terror threats.”
“UASI is the cornerstone of effective preparedness and prevention against terror attacks and in an era of rising terror threats, our support for anti-terror programs should not be falling. With this increase in funds, the NYPD can continue to do all it does to keep New Yorkers safe and secure,” he added.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a statement, thanked the Senate Committee on Appropriations “for taking a strong first step toward restoring essential anti-terror funding.”
“New York City is one of the world’s top terror targets, and the Urban Area Security Initiative plays a vital role in ensuring our residents are safe and prepared for any dangers that arise,” said de Blasio. “In the wake of recent events, we know anti-terror funding is more critical than ever. From our police officers to our firefighters, we are indebted to the hardworking men and women who protect our city each day – and we must protect the initiatives that fund their essential work.”