Saturday, December 10, 2005

DeWine blocks Homeland Security funding reform

On the heels of the 9/11 recovery waste, fraud and abuse documented by the New York Daily News in '4-year scandal of the 9/11 billions', comes the blocking of Homeland Security funding reform by several Senators, including Ohio's DeWine:

From 'Kean: Senate Security-Fund Delay Is 'Obscene':

The chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States yesterday sharply criticized senators for blocking a bill that would increase federal security dollars for target-rich states like New York.

Thomas Kean, who earlier this week called current formulas for allocating security funds "scandalous," focused his attack yesterday on a handful of senators from small states who are resisting a proposal that would lower the amount of money that goes to their states.

"Al Qaeda and bin Laden have been pretty specific about who they want to attack - either the financial strength of the country or our symbols of democracy," Mr. Kean said in an interview, "And that doesn't translate into farmland - that's New York City and Washington, and possibly some of our ports. Not to allocate our funds to meet that threat is crazy, and the fact that Congress hasn't done it yet is, I think, obscene."

The House of Representatives passed a bill in May by a vote of 405 to 10 that reduces to .25% from .75% the minimum amount of money that each state receives from the total pool of federal Homeland Security grants.

But the chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, Senator Collins, a Republican of Maine, has resisted allowing a similar plan to reach the floor of the Senate.

With the timetable for negotiations running out, Ms. Collins has shown little sign of retreat...

...A Republican congressman from Staten Island, Rep. Vito Fossella, decried the Senate proposal as a model of pork-barrel spending. But he too declined to name

"It's emblematic of what the mood is in Congress," Mr. Fossella said. "That everybody's got to get their piece of meat. I've said all along that sooner or later the American people will not and should not stand for doling out security dollars like everything else."

But a homeland security expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, James Carafano, said the Senate would easily pass a bill similar to the one that passed in the House if Ms. Collins and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Lieberman, of Connecticut, would allow such a bill onto the floor for a vote. "If Lieberman and Collins don't want it to come out of the committee, it's not going to come out of the committee," Mr. Carafano said...

...According to the current federal funding formula, each state gets no less than .75% of the entire pool of funds, with the balance of the money divided up on a per capita basis. The result, critics say, is that rural states like Wyoming and Montana end up with more than they need and target-rich states like New York end up with less than they need.

The Senate has passed on several opportunities to alter the formula, with the most recent opportunity coming yesterday during final negotiations for reauthorization of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. The conferees on that committee, who are named by Ms. Collins and Mr. Lieberman, came up one vote shy of approving a plan that would have allocated more funds according to risk.

Most of the senators who held out were from small states: Senator Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia; Senator Leahy, Democrat of Vermont; Senator Roberts, Republican of Kansas; Senator Hatch, Republican of Utah, and Senator DeWine, Republican of Ohio.

Mr. Kean, a Republican and former governor of New Jersey, said he is comfortable with the House bill that passed last spring because "the vast majority of funds go where they're needed."

Noting the overwhelming majority that approved the House bill, Mr. Kean expressed disbelief over the Senate's reluctance to pass a similar one. Of the 10 congressmen who voted against the House bill, two, Michael Michaud and Thomas Allen, were from Maine, a state with only two representatives in the House. A "60 Minutes" program broadcast earlier this year found that rural counties were spending homeland security funds on things such as transporting riding lawnmowers and buying a defibrillator for high school basketball games. New York City, meanwhile, has had to increase local taxes to help pay for police overtime and raise private funds for programs like sending counter-terrorism police officers overseas to gather intelligence.

"If there is another attack and our recommendations haven't been taken seriously, then what will we say?" Mr. Kean said. "What are we going to tell our children? I've talked to Senator Collins, and she said she is going to work the best bill she can. I understand she represents Maine, but this is something that's important for the whole country. If New York City gets hit, Maine gets hit too."

Update: More from fellow S.O.B Alliance member Weapons of Mass Discussion


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid that we sit down and do an objective needs assessment and prioritize first-responder projects, etc. to decide who gets what.

After all, it's only national security--why shouldn't it be porky like everything else?


PS. Is it me, or are the Maine Senators both self-centered, obstructionist witches?

December 11, 2005 at 10:49 AM  

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