Appearing on the John Catsimatidis radio show on AM 970 in New York on Sunday, former police commissioner Ray Kelly accused the White House of slashing anti-terrorism funding for the city to punish Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
His successor, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, recently accused the White House of the same thing.
“It appears to me that there’s a certain amount of vindictiveness on the part of Washington aimed at Sen. Chuck Schumer,” said Kelly on Sunday.
“Sen. Schumer’s always been a staunch supporter of appropriate funding for New York City’s counter-terror efforts, and the fact that they did it, they cut it fifty percent, I think was aimed at getting a reaction from Sen. Schumer,” Kelly continued. “Apparently they remember very well the fact that Sen. Schumer did not support their Iranian deal.”
Kelly was referring to the Obama administration’s proposed $270 million cut from the budget of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). New York City would lose about half of the $180 million it receives from the program, according to ABC News.
Senator Schumer did indeed react strongly to the budget cut.
“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,” Schumer said on February 14, as reported by the New York Post. “The president in general has been very good on security, but this is a serious mistake.”
“Long and short, these are dollars the NYPD and others in law enforcement use to keep us a step ahead of the bad guys. New York City – always a top terror target – needs all the funding it can get to help make sure we are kept safe,” he added.
Schumer went on to promise the UASI cuts would not receive congressional approval, vowing to fight them “tooth and nail.”
“I’m here to tell the bureaucrats in Washington [they] need to go back and do their homework on New York City and the NYPD because these dollars are an investment. These dollars prevent costly and crippling disasters. But most importantly, these dollars save lives,” the Senator declared.
ABC News quoted the current NYPD commissioner, William Bratton, calling the Obama administration’s budget cuts “unconscionable” and “indefensible.”
Several days after Schumer’s remarks, White House spokesman Josh Earnest hit back, launching what the New York Post described as an “extraordinary attack,” which drew “audible astonishment from reporters.”
Adding fuel to Ray Kelly’s allegations, Earnest specifically cited Schumer’s opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal to argue the Senator has no credibility on national security issues.
“I will also just say that at some point, Senator Schumer’s credibility in talking about national security issues – particularly when the facts are as they are when it relates to homeland security – have to be affected by the position that he’s taken on other issues,” Earnest said on February 17.
“Senator Schumer is somebody that came out and opposed the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Earnest continued. “He was wrong about that position. And most Democrats disagreed with him in taking that position. And when people look at the facts here when it comes to funding for homeland security, they’ll recognize that he’s wrong this time, too.”
NYPD commissioner Bratton responded by suggesting, as Ray Kelly did over the weekend, that cutting UASI could be White House payback against Schumer. “What the hell does the Iran deal have to do with this issue?” he scowled last Thursday, as reported by NBC News.
“So basically, what the White House has done is tip their hand: this might be political payback against Sen. Schumer for a vote he made a while back,” Bratton added. “That should have nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is terrorism and the threat to this city.”
Bratton also charged the White House with misleading the public about the ostensibly large amount of security funding that remains unspent by New York City, arguing that the funds are already allocated for a variety of state and city programs. The White House has accused Bratton and other critics of stirring up trouble to generate headline news coverage.
The Hill quoted Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, saying it was “out of line when it used its podium to question the credibility of our senior Senator, especially considering his position is shared by many in Congress.”
Crowley, however, did not agree with Bratton and Kelly’s assertion that the White House cut counter-terrorism funding to punish Schumer, calling the idea “outlandish, not to mention offensive and dismissive of both the facts and the rest of our delegation who have all been strong, bipartisan champions for our city and these programs.”
NBC notes that New York’s other senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, has also criticized the White House cuts to UASI funding, as have both New Jersey senators, Robert Menendez (another opponent of the Iran nuclear deal) and Cory Booker. All three Senators are Democrats.