NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City leaders issued a plea Wednesday about a threat to safety and security funding for the city.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, lawmakers and police said anti-terror programs will stop unless Congress passes legislation allowing for more money to prevent terrorist attacks.
An anti-terror preparedness drill three months ago started with the sound of fake bullets, as the NYPD, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Emergency Management, and the FDNY prepared to cope with the unthinkable.
“We replicated things that occurred in San Bernardino; in the Bataclan in Paris, France; and in Australia, to name a few,” NYPD Counterterrorism Chief James Waters said of the exercise in May.
But sources told CBS2 that drills like that one ago would cease to happen, and other terror fighting programs would grind to a halt, unless Congress passes an urban area security bill that includes $180 million for New York City.
Approximately $180 million in anti-terrorism funds are being held up by congressional gridlock, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“If Congress doesn’t act, there are going to be a lot of happy terrorists out in the world because they’re going to have a chance to come at us with less of our defenses up,” de Blasio said.
Bratton blames the funding gridlock in part on President Barack Obama, whose budget office earlier this year proposed cutting the city’s terrorism funding in half.
“Get the president to do the right thing since he started this whole mess, he and OMB [Office of Management and Budget], they were cut,” said Bratton.
Police officials were coy about just what programs would be cut – after all, they do not want to give our enemies a blueprint of potential weaknesses. But in the past, federal funds have been used for a wide array of counterterrorism assets – from specially armed and trained officers, dogs that sniff out explosives, and a huge nerve center that traces suspicious activity.
Frustrated area congressmen said anti-New York bias accounts for some of the foot-dragging in Washington.
“I’ve heard on some members-only elevators: ‘Why should we keep giving you guys money for homeland security?’” said Long Island U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) “‘It doesn’t help my constituency,’ they say.”
“The idea that they will not vote on this issue; the idea that we’re spending all this time – how many conferences have I had with you, the media – talking about this issue; that we have to spend so much time urging that they do something – it’s frustrating,” Bratton added.
De Blasio said fighting terrorism should be an issue of absolute consensus.
“If ever there was a bipartisan issue this should be it,” he said.
Congress comes back to Washington on Sept. 6. The big question is whether they stay long enough to pass the bill.
The deadline for passing the bill is Oct. 1.
Officials said it is not just the safety of 8.5 million New Yorkers that is at risk, but also the Big Apple’s 60 million tourists from all over the globe.