Rep. Pete King to step down as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee

Nov 25, 2012 Issues: -

 

As chairman, King helped to ensure that New York maintained the same level of federal assistance even as the pot of available funds shrank.

Daily News -- Joseph Straw

WASHINGTON — Rep. Pete King of Long Island is stepping down as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, possibly costing New York City crucial federal funding to combat terrorism.

As chairman, King helped to ensure that New York maintained the same level of federal assistance even as the pot of available funds shrank.

But it is unclear who will wield the committee’s gavel in the new Congress — and whether that new chairman will be as sensitive to New York’s requests for assistance.

In an interview with the Daily News, King acknowledged the risk to New York’s funding.

The new drive in Washington to reduce the federal deficit and the possibility that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano might be moving on as well are only adding to the uncertainty, he said.

Napolitano, King said, understood New York’s needs. “She realized that was where the threat was,” he explained.

King, a Republican, is giving up the top spot under self-imposed Republican rules that limit members to serving no more than six years as a committee chairman.

King already had a waiver to serve a seventh year, which he is now completing.

King will still hold sway as a former chairman and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He also expects to take over as chairman of the Homeland panel’s Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee.

“Nothing is definite in politics or government, so if there is a new homeland security secretary, I will try to work with them as chairman of the subcommittee, and work with the new chair,” King said.

The amount of money Uncle Sam distributes to cities to protect against terror has declined 40% in the past three years.

But New York’s appropriation has held fast at about $150 million — nearly a third of all the money now distributed to urban areas.

The money has funded the NYPD’s counterterror operations, surveillance cameras, equipment to detect explosives and a state-of-the-art radio system for the new World Trade Center.

And on King’s watch the region was designated as a site for a pilot federal program financing a $104 million network of sensors to provide early warning of a radiation threat.

Three of King’s Republican colleagues are vying for the committee’s gavel, but none are from New York or even the Northeast: Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, Michael McCaul of Texas, and the Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan.

It’s not clear where all three stand on New York’s funding needs. An aide to McCaul said the Texan believes that counterterror appropriations have “got to be threat-based, and New York is at the top of that list.”

Mayor Bloomberg said King worked to de-politicize funding and “established a baseline for future funding that will benefit our City for years to come.”

He said he was counting on King to help secure the needed funds moving forward. “Even though Pete must step down as chairman, he will remain a committee member and I know he will continue to be a steadfast champion of New York City and our Police Department,” Bloomberg said.