Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced legislation to provide long-term funding for the Securing the Cities initiative that combines federal, state and local resources to protect the New York metropolitan area against the threat of a radiological or nuclear attack. Senator Gillibrand’s bill is the Senate version of Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) legislation, which passed earlier this year in the House of Representatives, to permanently authorize the Securing the Cities program and enable its expansion to other targeted areas.
“There is no higher priority than the safety of New Yorkers,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As we saw this weekend, New York City is the number one target for terrorists around the world who want to harm Americans. We must always remain vigilant in guarding against terrorist attacks and always make sure law enforcement at every level is armed with the resources they need to protect our city and keep us safe. This legislation makes the effective Securing the Cities program permanent and provides the funding needed to help prevent a dirty bomb attack in New York.”
Rep. King said, “I thank Senator Gillibrand, for introducing this Senate bill to authorize the Securing the Cities Initiative. The attempted car bombing of Times Square on Saturday night is a wake up call that New York City is the #1 terror target. This bill will help protect New York and other high risk cities from attack with a dirty bomb or larger nuclear device. In January, the House of Representatives passed my bill to authorize Securing the Cities in law. I hope the Senate moves quickly to send this bill to the President for signature to help protect New York and the Nation from terrorist attack.”
Securing the Cities is the nation’s only program designed to address the threat of a dirty bomb attack – which combines radioactive materials with conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material over a large area – an act of terrorism considered among the most dangerous threats to global security. Additionally, it is a successful example of collaboration between State, Federal and local governments, and provides a clear template for homeland security efforts in other US cities.
Senator Gillibrand’s legislation would provide $20 million in funding for the Securing the Cities program for FY2011, and a recurring $10 million in each subsequent fiscal year. It would also authorize additional funds for other targeted metropolitan areas in the Urban Area Security Initiative, which provides funding based on risk for major urban centers. Congress appropriated a total of $20 million for FY2010. By providing a long-term authorization for the Securing the Cities program, this legislation would help prevent future cuts and ensure this critical program remains in place.
Congressman Pete King introduced similar legislation to provide a long-term authorization for Securing the Cities in the House last year, which was passed by the full House earlier this year.
Since its inception, Securing the Cities has accomplished the following to protect New York City:
- Conducted three full-scale exercises intercepting radioactive materials;
- Developed thorough response plans to interdict nuclear materials;
- Initiated training for personnel in the proper use of more than 4,500 units of radiation detection equipment; and
- Initiated development of radiation detection systems at the entry points of bridges and tunnels into New York City – capable of detecting and identifying the entrance of radiological materials.