Protection For New York Is Protection Of The Nation
by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York City won an important victory in Congress when both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved additional spending on Homeland Security. The language adopted by each differs slightly, and the final provisions of the bill sent to President Bush will have to be worked out in a conference committee. But the bottom line is that the Big Apple and other cities facing risks of terrorism stand to receive substantial Federal help for our counter-terrorism measures.
This represents a much needed redirection of Homeland Security funding. Earlier this year, New York was expected to receive $10 million out of $566 million in Homeland Security funding. Why so little? Because the funds where distributed on a formula based on population and our city makes up only about 3% of the nation's population. But does anyone really think we face only 3% of the risk from terrorism? As I testified last week to the national commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, if we distributed monies for the military this way, our troops in Iraq would have bows and arrows.
That's why I made a quick, unscheduled trip to Washington last Monday leaving Shea Stadium during the fourth inning of the Met's opening day game to help present New York City's case during the final deliberations on the President's proposed Homeland Security bill. I reminded House and Senate members that because New York is a symbol of America to people around the world, terrorists have targeted us for attack four times, starting with the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center ten years ago. New York's importance, and the risks that come with it, ought to be factors in allocating Homeland Security funds.
Well, chalk one up for common sense: Last Thursday, the House approved a bill allocating $700 million in Homeland Security funding for high-risk cities. On the same day, the Senate voted a similar appropriation of $600 million. And the overall Homeland Security funding formula may be modified to reflect risk instead of relying solely on population.
Our Congressional delegation did an outstanding job, especially Senators Schumer and Clinton and Congressmen Charles Rangel and John Sweeney. But what New Yorkers should really be happy about is how representatives from other states understood and supported our unique needs. Three really stood out for their leadership: Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee; Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Chair of the Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee; and Congressman Bill Young of Florida, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Just this week, in a sign that the federal government is beginning to understand that New York City carries special risks, the Department of Homeland Security distributed $25 million of $100 million of homeland security aid allotted for high-risk cities. I will continue to make the case that all homeland security funds should be distributed based on threat analysis instead of population-based formulas. When you think about it, it's only fair. New York is the nation's financial capital and our communications nerve center. Protection for New York is protection of the nation.
Over the last three weeks, the NYPD has put into action "Operation Atlas," an intensive counter-terrorism security plan for the city. It includes checkpoints at bridges and tunnels, stepped-up patrols on our waterways and in our subways, and other less visible activities, including intelligence gathering. All this costs roughly $13 million a week, including $5 million in police overtime. We're going to keep Operation Atlas in effect as long as necessary. And now it appears that we'll be getting some very welcome Federal assistance to help us keep our city safe.
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