Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, have contacted House and Senate appropriators urging them in a joint letter to include $20 million in the FY 2011 DHS appropriations bill for the continuation and expansion of the Securing the Cities Initiative, a highly successful partnership among federal, state and local authorities to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism through a ring of detection devices in and around the New York metropolitan area. In FY 2010, Congress appropriated $20 million.
King said: “With the WMD Commission finding that the risk of nuclear terrorism is increasing and President Obama warning that we face a great threat from nuclear materials, it is critically important that the successful Securing the Cities program continue with proper funding. New York City continues to be al-Qaeda’s top target, and Securing the Cities is an effective program at preventing a dirty bomb attack. I am glad to be working with Senator Gillibrand to secure necessary funding for Securing the Cities in order to protect New York City and other cities in America.”
Gillibrand said: “New York City remains a top terrorist target and we must continue to be vigilant in investing federal resources to protect New York and the nation. These homeland security dollars are critical to helping law enforcement prevent the worst case scenario – a dirty bomb or nuclear attack on the city.”
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Chairman Price, Ranking Member Rogers, Chairman Byrd, and Ranking Member Voinovich:
As you work to craft the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011, we respectfully request you include $20 million for the Securing the Cities (STC) Initiative and additional funding as is available to expand this successful program to other high-risk areas. The $20 million funding level is equal to that appropriated in FY 2010 and will enable the continued advancement of a national nuclear detection architecture to help protect our nation from a terrorist attack with a radiological or nuclear weapon. This money will also allow STC to reach its full potential to interdict a nuclear or dirty bomb and permit replication of this highly successful program in other urban areas at high risk of such an attack, as reflected in legislation passed by the House of Representatives.
STC not only benefits the greater New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut regions, but also the nation, which would suffer consequential economic damages if a nuclear or dirty bomb were detonated in the New York tri-state region. For the past four years, both the House and the Senate have deemed STC important enough to receive Federal support. Last year, the House, by a strong bipartisan vote of 282-148, restored funding to previous levels, sending a clear message that continuation of the program with $40 million for FY 2010 was the right choice. The Senate also recognized the importance of STC by including $10 million in its Homeland Security Appropriations bill to continue the program’s funding. Ultimately, conferees agreed to include $20 million for this vital program.
Earlier this year the House passed H.R. 2611, legislation authorizing the STC Initiative, by voice vote under suspension of the Rules. This was the second time the House has passed legislation authorizing this program (H.R. 5531 during the 110th Congress). And, on April 15, 2010, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed the Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act (H.R. 4842) which also included a provision authorizing funding for this program.
The STC Initiative provides funds to implement a unified strategy for defending against radiological and nuclear threats. STC is both a regional capability and a national asset. It provides an operational capacity to interdict a radiological or nuclear weapon in one city, which can prevent that weapon from being delivered and detonated elsewhere in the nation. It can also prevent the widespread economic damages that would be associated with a detonation in the New York tri-state region. More work toward equipment acquisition, research and development, and enhancement of operational capabilities remains and without this additional funding, neither completion of detection work and sensor networking nor replication in other high risk areas will be possible.
The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism found that nuclear terrorism is an area of increased risk. In addition, during the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, President Obama warned that a nuclear detonation “in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg” could have devastating “ramifications economically, politically, and from a security perspective.” The President underscored how such a detonation “could change the security landscape of this country and around the world for years to come.”
The Securing the Cities Initiative is an excellent example of the type of coordination among Federal, state, and local partners that the Department of Homeland Security has worked so hard to facilitate, and which the Congress has demanded. Terminating the investment in this critical program abdicates the Federal Government’s responsibility to advance a nuclear detection architecture in a world where the threat of nuclear terrorism continues to increase.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.
Peter T. King
Member of Congress
United States Senator