June 19, 2006 - E-Newsletter Vol III: Ed VIII
Washington has been busy recently with activity that directly affects us in New York. Here's my latest update:
In this E-Newsletter:
- Homeland Cut for New York: It's as Bad as You Think
- Major Work on 9/11 Commission's Recommendations Remains
- Another Threat to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Congress Closer to Strengthening Safeguards for Foreign Acquisitions
- More Government Records on Nazi War Criminals Released
- Battling Beetles in Our City's Parks
Homeland Cut for New York: It's as Bad as You Think
If you've read or seen the news over the past few weeks, chances are you couldn't miss the stories about the ridiculous decision by the administration to cut homeland security grants to New York City by 40%. The pork-barrel distribution of homeland funds has shortchanged New York ever since 9/11, and I've spoken loudly against it for years. I never thought it could go from bad to worse, but that seems to be the case.
Now that we've had a little while to digest the funding announcement and the explanations for the decision, you would think that it would make more sense, but it truly does not. Secretary Chertoff and his underlings have spent a lot of time on the air and in the papers, giving a variety of explanations that often contradict each other. The truth seems to be that the Department of Homeland Security devised a far-too-complicated funding system that put New York at a disadvantage and that those inputting information into the new formula were simply incompetent.
By endorsing funding by “need” in addition to “risk,” by funding regions instead of cities, and by relying on peer review panels that may have been sympathetic to low-risk cities, DHS's formula was weighted against New York.
On top of that, the people running show showed incredibly poor judgement. They accounted for exactly zero national monuments and icons in New York City. (They categorized the Empire State Building , for instance, as a “large office building” instead of an icon. Isn't it both?) They also punished New York based on the quality of its application. They just didn't show common sense.
The response from the New York delegation has been swift and loud. The entire House delegation joined Peter King and me in requesting a face-to-face meeting with the Secretary, and we expect that to happen soon. Though I believe Mr. King will tackle this problem in his committee, our immediate legislative options are somewhat limited because this year's distribution is essentially set in stone. Money that could be solidifying our security here in New York and Washington will instead be spent on fancy and unnecessary equipment in places like Omaha , Louisville and Jacksonville. All this the result of a bad plan and incompetent execution.
- Read more about Homeland cuts for New York >
- Read more on the New York Delegation's request to Secretary Chertoff >
The former Chair and Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, appearing recently before the National Security Subcommittee, testified that the government's work to implement the commission's recommendations remains incomplete. In the commission's final report last year, they gave the government more “F's” than “A's” for its work to improve security – and commission Chair Thomas Kean told us that those grades haven't changed. He and Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton were especially critical of the recent homeland funding announcement (they already gave the government an “F” for homeland grants last year).
To remedy our shortcomings, I have helped author and introduce a bill to implement the remaining commission recommendations (H.R. 5017). Their report is a blueprint to make our country safer, and it should not be allowed to just sit on a shelf and collect dust. Governor Kean called this bill the most important step we can take to make us safer, and I hope Congress will act.
Once again, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is at risk of being subjected to drilling for oil. At the end of May, I voted against an energy bill that would open up the wilderness preserve in Alaska to the oil companies. Unfortunately, the bill passed the House.
Congress's enthusiasm to open up the refuge is completely misguided. Drilling in the refuge will only save families one penny per gallon of gas over the next 20 years, so it certainly doesn't help consumers very much. As with the previous attempts to open the refuge, we must hope that the Senate will resist the most recent piece of legislation. I will continue to oppose any attempt to allow drilling in the refuge in hopes that the unseemly connection between this Congress and the oil industry will be broken.
Building upon the first bipartisan bill to revamp the foreign acquisition screening system that I introduced in March, I have joined with several colleagues to introduce another bill, which is gaining momentum. Ever since the Dubai ports deal exposed serious flaws in the way foreign investment in the United States is vetted – especially when a foreign government is involved – it has been clear that the system needs to be strengthened.
The legislation I have sponsored along with colleagues including Rep. Roy Blunt (MO-7), the House Majority Whip, and Rep. Joseph Crowley (NY-7) does exactly that, while preventing a chilling of safe foreign investment. It was recently approved by the House Financial Services Committee and will be considered for final passage on the House floor. Among other provisions, it would mandate a 45-day review for all investments involving a foreign government, and it would give the Director of National Intelligence a bigger role in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
The Interagency Working Group in charge of reviewing and reporting on U.S. government records related to Nazi War Criminals has released to the public another 27,000 documents. These documents show, among other things, that our government knew the whereabouts of chief Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann after WWII but failed to act.
I am proud to have been one of the authors of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act in 1998, which has led to the declassification and release of more than 8 million pages of information about the government's knowledge of the Holocaust and interaction with Nazi War Criminals. Last year, Sen. Mike DeWine (OH) and I worked to gain the CIA's cooperation with the Interagency Working Group. The reports that have and will result from these records will help bring a measure of closure to that awful period in human history, bring us a greater understanding of our history and help us learn lessons from the past.
The Asian Longhorned Beetle may not look like it can cause major damage to millions of trees in our city and throughout the northeast, but don't be fooled. The bug, which is little in size but big in bite, has already destroyed 4,000 trees in New York City, and it threatens 2 million more.
That's why it was so important that Congress adopted a recent amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill, offered by Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-9), that will increase federal funding to combat the beetle by $23 million. I joined with Rep. Weiner and City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to call for more federal resources to save our trees. Federal funding to combat the beetle has fallen sharply in recent years – from $23 million in FY 2002 to $8 million in FY 2006.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
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