NEW YORK — A Bush administration plan to slash anti-terror grant programs by more than half would threaten the safety of U.S. cities, several New York politicians charged Saturday.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer blasted the Bush administration's plan to eliminate some port and rail security programs and cut Homeland Security grants for states and cities from $3.4 billion in the fiscal year 2007 to $1.4 billion in 2009.
"To say, no port security, no transit security, when we know that our ports and transit lines are targets for terrorists makes no sense if you want to protect America," said Schumer, D-N.Y.
In a letter to President Bush Saturday, Hillary Rodham Clinton said that in light of the terrorist threats facing the nation, "it is unimaginable to hear that you would cut funding for our nation's law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders by more than half."
Other officials said the cuts would penalize a city attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, and in 1993.
"It's stunning that the federal government would consider cutting New York City's homeland security funds from the already inadequate level that currently exists," said John Gallagher, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The federal government has given $23 billion in anti-terror grants to states and municipalities since the Sept. 11 attacks, but some have criticized the programs as pork-barrel spending.
According to budget documents obtained by The Associated Press, the Bush administration is not convinced that the money has been well spent and thinks the nation's highest-risk cities have largely satisfied their emergency need to boost security.
White House Office of Management and Budget officials said the president's budget proposals have yet to be finalized. Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said Friday that the White House would strongly support any needed anti-terror programs.
"Protecting the homeland continues to remain a top priority for the administration and although no final budget decisions have been made, we are confident future funding levels will appropriately reflect our dedication to homeland security," White House spokesman Trey Bohn said Saturday.
Bush really stuck his foot in it with this proposal. If he keeps this up he might be the first President with approval numbers in the teens. Look for more anger from more congresscritters from different venues as the days go by.