2007-02-16 / Community

Weiner Seeks More Security Funds For NYC

Representative Anthony Weiner has announced legislation to secure more urban homeland security funds for New York City, which would be accomplished by limiting eligibility for high threat grants to the 15 cities most at risk of a terror attack. The bill comes on the heels of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week, which found that vital anti-terror dollars are going to some cities that even the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not consider at risk.

While Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants are supposed to be reserved for the highest threat cities, they have become pork barrel funds doled out to "urban areas" covering 54% of the country, including 14 areas with populations smaller than Staten Island.

The Weiner legislation, known as the THREAT Act (Targeting Homeland Security Resources Effectively Against Terrorism Act), would reduce - from 46 to 15 - the number of cities eligible for anti-terror funds under the UASI program.

Removing small, low risk cities from the funding mix will free up more funds for large, high risk cities, reducing the possibility of drastic cuts such as the $83 million or 40% cut in New York City's funding last year. According to an estimate by Weiner's office, New York City would have received at least $49 million more in 2006 if UASI cities were capped at 15.

Underscoring the need for the THREAT Act, a new GAO report released last week found that not only did cities like Omaha and Louisville see funding increases of more than 50% last year, but those two cites - and nine others that received UASI funds in 2006 - fell outside DHS's risk model, meaning that they weren't considered "high threat."

"The Bush Administration has let high threat funding turn into just another pork barrel program, with everyone from Jacksonville to Milwaukee feeding at the trough," said Rep. Weiner. "This is no way to stop terrorists."

The THREAT Act (Targeting Homeland Security Resources Effectively Against Terrorism Act) has been filed as H.R. 911.

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