Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chairman King and the lack of clout

When King got his appointment as Chairman of the Homeland Security Commitee the "conventional wisdom" was that with a NYer at the helm, New York will fare better with funding and assistance. King himself said on WNBC
" It has to be good for New York if I do my job because I strongly believe that all funding for homeland security has to be based on threat..... So to that extent, New York will be represented at the highest levels of the homeland security table."
King seems to believe that he has more clout than before. Sadly he seems to have the same amount of minimal clout.
Congress is set to "reclaim" $125 million from a NY 9/11 fund because that money has gone "unspent." According to Newsday "Congressional budget negotiators have decided to take back $125 million in Sept. 11 aid from New York, which had fought to keep the money to treat sick and injured ground zero workers, lawmakers said Tuesday."
"It seems that despite our efforts," the funding take-back "will stand, very sadly, and that is something of a promise broken," said Rep. Vito Fossella, R-Staten Island."
"The tug-of-war over the $125 million began earlier this year when the White House proposed taking the money back because it had yet to be spent by the state."
"New York protested vehemently, saying the money was part of a crucial pledge of $20 billion made by President Bush to help rebuild after the Sept. 11 attacks. Health advocates said the money is needed to treat current and future illnesses among ground zero workers.The U.S. Senate voted last month to let New York keep the $125 million, but the House made no such move, and House-Senate budget negotiators decided to take the money back, lawmakers and aides said."

So because New York did not spend all the money right away, the republican congress is taking it away.
Where is King on this?

Why isn't he using his new-found power to get the money to stay in New York?
I would have expected more King rather than Fossella to be vocal about this.
So far it's been up to Sens. Schumer and Clinton along with other New York Representatives to carry the torch for keeping the funds. The Senate restored the funds through the Senate Appropriations commitee.
From Newsday: "This is the righting of an inadvertent wrong," said Clinton, who announced the deal on the Senate floor.Recovery workers at the trade center and Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island have "suffered an incredible range of lung-related and breathing diseases," she added."

It was then left up to the House Appropriations Committee to agree to keeping the funding iin NEw York.
"Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), who helped lead the fight in the House to salvage the $125 million, said that the fate of the money now comes down to the conference negotiations between the House and the Senate.
“Senators Clinton and Schumer did a terrific job,” said Maloney. “Now, this all rides on the negotiations between the House and the Senate - the New York delegation will support our Senators as they work to keep the amendment in the final bill. The negotiators should remember that there are many 9/11 responders who remain sick and injured and who still rely on the support of their government. We should live up to the ‘never forget’ motto this nation adopted after 9/11.”
The take-back of $125 million from the 9/11 injured workers fund was originally proposed by the administration in its budget proposal, and it was inserted into legislation by the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate version of the legislation would have also taken back the $125 million had New York Senators not successfully attached their amendment."

Rep. Maloney sent a letter to President Bush asking him to recind his budget proposal that would take the $125 million away from NY. Twenty Five (25) members of the New York delegation signed the letter including republicans. King is missing from that list. A letter was also sent to the Chairman for the Appropriations commitee to reconsider stripping NY of the money. Again, King goes missing.

Great job, Chairman King. Thanks for nothing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, now that you look back, it seems that the $125 million was put back, now wasn't it? And if you've kept pace with recent developments, the allocation of Homeland Security funds on a risk basis was just announced. No?