This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. King (R-NY) to H.R. 2892, which provided funding for the Department of Homeland Security for the 2010 fiscal year. The amendment added $50 million to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, $40 million of which would go to the Securing the Cities initiative and $10 million of which would go to the procurement of radiation portal monitors. The additions proposed in the amendment would be offset by a combined reduction of $50 million in the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Secretary and Executive Management and the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.
Rep King, the Ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, based most of his argument for his amendment on the wording of a letter supporting the Securing the Cities program from every law enforcement first responder head in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Most Republicans supported his argument.
The letter referenced by King said that “(S)ecuring the Cities is a vital, federally funded effort to protect New York City from the threat of an improvised nuclear device or a radiological dispersal device (a ‘dirty bomb’). The program involves equipping many different agencies in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with state-of-the-art mobile radiation-detection equipment, training them in its proper use, and leveraging existing technology and infrastructure to deploy a permanent defensive radiation-detection ring around New York City.
‘The Securing the Cities program is the only federal initiative designed specifically to protect a U.S. city from a radiological or nuclear terrorist attack, which President Obama has called, ‘the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.’ We never saw the program as a ‘pilot,’ as some have suggested, but as an operational model, developed to protect the city that suffered the most on September 11, 2001, and that continues to be at the top of the terrorist threat list . . . Zeroing this program out, as the President's FY2010 Budget has mistakenly proposed, would do great harm to the security of New York as well as the quality of our agencies' partnership with the Department of Homeland Security.”
King concluded by arguing that “this successful program is an operational model which can be replicated in cities and suburbs throughout the country.” A number of Democrats, including those from New York City, as well as some from the Los Angeles area and some more politically moderate Members, supported King’s arguments. However, the majority of Democrats, including those from other urban areas, did not support the amendment. Rep. Price (D-NC), the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, also opposed the amendment.
Price first said he “couldn't agree more that Securing the Cities is a valuable pilot program demonstrating how State and local Governments could develop, with Federal agencies, architecture to prevent a nuclear or radiological attack on New York. But I must emphasize that Securing the Cities is a 3-year pilot project, and this period is over. DHS requested no 2010 program because it is already positioned to accomplish its goals as a pilot program. So what we have here today is, in effect, an earmark for New York.”
The amendment passed by a vote of 282-148. One hundred and sixty-eight Republicans and one hundred and fourteen Democrats voted “aye”. One hundred and thirty-nine Democrats, including a majority of the most progressive Members, and nine Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, $50 million was added to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, while an equal amount was taken from Department of Homeland Security Office of the Secretary and Executive Management and the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.