NEW YORK — New York will be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks if Congress doesn’t pass a bill that sets aside $600 million in anti-terror money, Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday.
The Urban Security Initiative provides money for first responders and law enforcement agencies in several cities facing terror threats. New York would get about $180 million in funds if the bill passes.
“Any change in this funding disrupts the system,” said Mayor de Blasio. “New York City remains the most targeted city in the United States and one of the most targeted cities in the world.”
New York has stopped 20 terrorist plots in the city since 2001 and federal funding is critical for keeping the city safe, de Blasio said.
But President Obama’s Fiscal 2017 budget allocated only $330 million to the Urban Security Initiative – an almost 50 percent cut from the previous year’s budget allocation. If that version of the budget were to pass in Congress, New York City would receive $90 million less.
The funding was originally slashed after allegations surfaced that New York wasn’t using the money the federal government was supplying for anti-terror efforts. Mayor de Blasio disputed that and said every dollar give to the city has been spent or is being spent.
Committees in Congress have restored the Urban Security Initiative funding back to its larger amounts, but Congress has not yet voted to pass the budget. Congress is currently on vacation and won’t reconvene until September.
“If Congress doesn’t act, there are going to be a lot of happy terrorists out there in the world because they’re going to have a chance to come at us with less of our defenses up,” Mayor de Blasio said.
Congressman Steve Israel, who along with his House Appropriations Committee colleagues passed the bill at $600 million, called for an end to the gridlock.
“A committee passing a bill is irrelevant until the House passes it, the Senate passes it, and the President signs it,” Congressman Israel said. “And right now we are in absolute gridlock.”
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is unsure what cuts the NYPD would make if anti-terror funding to the city is slashed. The city will be forced to cross that bridge if it comes to it, he said.
“It is unconscionable to short the City of New York nearly $100 million in critical counterterrorism funding,” Bratton said. “The funding for personnel, training and equipment is critical to the NYPD and our ability to keep this city safe. I stand with the Mayor and others in calling for the restoration of these funds – immediately.”
“Where we are now is the concern that if Congress doesn’t act on this or they start chewing it up, that come October when they pass the new budget – pfft – it’s gone.”