March 20, 2013

Schumer, Gillibrand Lead Successful Effort To Defeat Attempt On Senate Floor To Limit Use Of NYC Anti-Terror Money

Schumer and Gillibrand Took to the Senate Floor Before Vote, at Approximately 2:15, In Opposition to Republican Amendment That Would Prevent Urban Areas Security Initiative Funds from Being Used to Pay Local Public Safety Officials Overtime And to Pay For Vital Equipment

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand took to the Senate floor earlier today to lead the opposition in defeating an amendment offered by Senator Coburn that would have prohibited the New York Police Department from using Urban Areas Security Initiative, or UASI funds, from being used to pay local public safety employees overtime and backfill pay. The amendment was defeated on the Senate floor by a vote of 48-51. The full text of the Senators’ floor speeches are below.

“This amendment, instead of helping to protect the people of New York, would have slapped handcuffs on the NYPD, severely limiting their ability to prevent and respond to the next terrorism attack,” said Schumer. “ This is exactly the type of micromanaging that Americans do not want to see from Washington, and all New Yorkers are safer because it was defeated.”

"New York City remains the number one target for terrorists around the world who want to do us harm,” said Gillibrand. “Therefore, we must remain vigilant and continue to provide local law enforcement with all the tools necessary to keep us safe. This was simply the wrong prescription at the wrong time and I am relieved it was defeated."

According to Mayor Bloomberg’s office, if this amendment had passed, New York City training and security deployments would have been in jeopardy. NYC uses a portion of UASI funds to support:

  • Overtime expenses enable key counterterrorism efforts to remain economical.  If the NYPD needed to hire full-time officers or assign current full-time officers to the specialized patrol and intelligence duties described, NYPD could not afford to do so.  It is only through allotting overtime assignments that the intense effort for counterterrorism activities can take place at all.  This process gives NYPD flexibility of assignment, varying intensity, place, specialization, etc. NYPD combines officer overtime with special teams (such as canine assignment, heavy weapons, radiation or explosives detection), enabling the officer to receive training and operations exercises as well. 
  • Core Competency First Responder Training. Examples of this include the Fire Department’s (FDNY) Tiered Response Training and the Police Department’s (NYPD) Counter-Terrorism Training, such as the active shooter course. FDNY personnel and NYPD officers cannot do these trainings on their normal shifts because they have their regular job responsibilities. They do training outside of regular work hours and receive overtime pay which the UASI grants help fund.
  • Region-wide Planning and Exercises. This funding has been used to pay for coordinated regional planning exercises with Nassau and Suffolk Counties, among others. The exercises are designed to prepare and coordinate multi-jurisdictional emergency response related to a large and catastrophic event.

 

  • Boots on the Ground Law Enforcement Security Measures. This includes heavy-weapons teams that conduct ongoing patrols at landmarks, transit hubs, airports, bridges, subways, waterways and at other key infrastructure. Grant funds pay for operational overtime costs and for personnel to participate in information, investigative, and intelligence sharing activities.

 

Senator Schumer’s Full Floor Statement, as prepared:

 

  • Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the Coburn UASI Amendment.
  • This amendment seeks to significantly reduce funding for the Urban Areas Security Initiative otherwise known as UASI.
  • UASI is the lifeblood of New York’s anti-terror programs and funds the massive terror-prevention program for downtown Manhattan and its expansion into Times Square and midtown.
  • The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative is an anti-terror computer system which is funded by UASI, therefore, to ban the purchase of computers with UASI funds, would serve to make New York City more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
  • Make no mistake - If this amendment passes, New York City training and security deployments would be in jeopardy.
  • And here is why.

 

  • NYC uses a portion of UASI funds to support crucial First Responder Training efforts.
    • Examples of this include the Fire Department's (FDNY) Tiered Response Training and the Police Department's (NYPD) Counter-Terrorism Training, such as the active shooter course.

 

  • FDNY personnel and NYPD officers simply cannot do these trainings on their normal shifts because they have their regular job responsibilities.

 

  • They do training outside of regular work hours and receive overtime pay which the UASI grants help fund.

 

  • Another casualty of this amendment if it were to pass, would be Region-wide Planning and Exercises.

 

  • This funding has been used to pay for coordinated regional planning exercises throughout the New York City Metropolitan area.

 

  • The exercises are designed to prepare and coordinate multi-jurisdictional emergency response related to a large and catastrophic event.

 

  • And for those have to be reminded - New York has had it share of Large and Catastrophic Events.

 

  • Boots on the Ground Law Enforcement Security Measures would also be negatively impacted by this amendment.

 

  • This includes heavy-weapons teams that conduct ongoing patrols at transit hubs, airports, bridges, subways, waterways and highly visited landmarks.

 

  • Grant funds also pay for operational overtime costs and for personnel to participate in intelligence sharing activities.

 

  • If the NYPD needed to hire full-time officers or assign current full-time officers to the specialized patrol and intelligence duties described, NYPD could not afford to do so.

 

  • It is only through allotting overtime assignments that the intense effort for counterterrorism activities can take place at all. 

 

  • NYPD combines officer overtime with special teams - such as canine assignment, heavy weapons, radiation or explosives detection - enabling the officer to receive training and operations exercises as well. 

 

  • The bottom line is this: New York City continues to be the number one target for terrorism in the United States and federal anti-terror funding needs to reflect that reality.

 

  • And let me add just one more point.

 

  • Many New Yorkers - still to this very day - continue to see with their own eyes the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy.

 

  • And who can forget – the heroic efforts of our first responders.

 

  • Well, it’s important to understand that UASI funded Planning and Exercises prepared the NYC region in handling the mass evacuation of communities and helped to staff shelters and establish evacuation centers.

 

  • This Homeland Security Grant funding helped to ensure the deployment of resources and the coordinating of emergency response operations during Hurricane Sandy.   

 

  • Training and Exercises - funded through Homeland Security Grant programs - prepare and equipped our fire and law enforcement communities with the training and tools needed to handle, respond and recover from natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.  

 

  • This funding is simply too important to New York City’s security and should not be restricted..

 

  • Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to vote against Coburn Amendment 69.

 

Senator Gillibrand’s Full Floor Statement:

 

  • I rise in vigorous opposition, and with deep concern, to an amendment offered by the Senator from Oklahoma that would prohibit Urban Areas Security Initiative, or UASI funds, from being used to pay local public safety employees overtime and backfill pay.

 

  • I share the Senator’s commitment to ensuring that Homeland Security funds are spent wisely. I believe his efforts are in good faith and I am eager to work with him to meet this goal. However, as the threat from al-Qaeda has metastasized to the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere, there are still terrorists whose objective is to inflict wide-scale harm to Americans on our homeland.

 

  • New York City remains the number one target for terrorists around the world who want to do us harm. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and continue to provide local law enforcement with all the tools necessary to keep us safe.

 

  • So, as well intentioned as this amendment may be, law enforcement organizations across the country have been loud and clear.  This is simply the wrong prescription at the wrong time.

 

  • This amendment is opposed by a range of law enforcement and first responder organizations, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriff’s Association, National Fusion Center Association, National Homeland Security Coalition and The United States Conference of Mayors.

 

  • Under the leadership of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, 16 publicly known terrorist attacks on our city have been thwarted since 9/11. Our local law enforcement must continue to have every tool available to remain one step ahead of the terrorists at every single turn. Even at a time of fiscal restraint in Washington, protecting our families from the unimaginable should not be a place where we make cuts.

 

  • According to Police Commissioner Kelly, this amendment would, “jeopardize our collective efforts to safeguard New York City…” and that “without a doubt, the overtime and backfill funding that the NYPD uses to support investigations, training and deployments are essential to the NYPD’s layered approach to security.”

 

  • I ask my colleagues to stand with local law enforcement officials, to stand with the American people who we have a sworn duty to protect and vote NO on this amendment.

 

  • Because if passed, this amendment will put the training and security deployments needed to keep us safe in jeopardy. These are not esoteric programs. We are talking about programs that include Counter-Terrorism training, Region-wide planning exercises designed to prepare emergency responses to large and catastrophic events, and boots on the ground security measures, including heavy-weapons teams and intelligence sharing.

 

  • These overtime funds actually reduce costs. If the NYPD needed to hire full-time officers or assign current full-time officers to the specialized patrol and intelligence duties described, they could not afford to do so.  

 

  • So while I commend my colleague for attempting to be a good steward of the taxpayers money, these are cuts our families simply can not afford to make. We have a solemn duty to protect the American people, that should be our first priority in this body. And I ask each and every member of this body to ask themselves how history may judge us if we fail to live up to that duty.

 

  • Thank you, I yield the floor.