New York City’s elected officials gathered for a press conference on Wednesday to gripe about a proposal in President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget that would cut $90 million of federal funding for the city’s counterterrorism efforts. The new budget halves the $181 million usually granted through the Urban Areas Security Initiative to help train and arm law-enforcement officials in dense urban areas and forestall terror attacks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, alongside NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton and Senator Chuck Schumer, said that anti-terrorism spending is “no place to cut corners.” Bratton echoed this sentiment, calling the planned cuts “indefensible” and asking, “Who thought this was a good idea?”
This is the second time in the past few months that Schumer and the White House have diverged on a defense question (Schumer was among four Democrats who opposed the nuclear deal with Iran). He’s now saying that he plans to fight “tooth and nail in Congress to make sure UASI [funds] are increased in America and across the country.” This drew some ire from White House press secretary Josh Earnest: “At some point, 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,” said Earnest in a press conference on Wednesday.
Of course, New York City receives money from the Department of Homeland Security in many ways beyond just UASI grants. Earnest pointed out that there’s already $600 million in Department of Homeland Security funding sitting in New York’s account, with $255 million more coming this year. The budget proposal would still leave the city the top recipient of anti-terror dollars in the country. Earnest pointed out that the amount of DHS funding that New York City is receiving in 2016 will be twice as much as it’s spent in the past two years put together.