White House pushes back against criticism of NYC anti-terror funding

The White House rejected criticism of cuts to some New York City anti-terror programs Thursday, saying that overall funding for the city is higher than it was under President George W. Bush.

Members of Congress from New York who hail from both political parties have criticized the administration's decision to reduce mass transit security grants by 27 percent and port security grants by 25 percent. But the White House says it's not really a cut.

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"The reports are wrong," assistant White House press secretary Nick Shapiro said in an e-mail. "When all federal funding is totaled, NYC has received a net increase of $47 million for port and transit security over the previous year's budget, which was signed into law by the Bush administration."

The White House says the overall port and transit security grant funding increased by 14 percent between the Bush and Obama administrations and that overall grant funding for New York was boosted by 24 percent. 

According to Shapiro, $100 million of that funding came from the stimulus act, which was one of the president's main legislative priorities. He noted that with $245 million, New York is the largest recipient of port and transit security funding in the country.

Shapiro also pointed to an article in The Atlantic that said New York City has hardly spent any of the grant money in question. Lawmakers, however, say that a dedicated stream of funding in necessary to sustain long-term projects.

The White House launched a full-throated defense of its plan the same day President Barack Obama is visiting with members of the New York City Police Department about the attempted bombing in Times Square that happened less than two weeks ago.

Republicans and Democrats from the Empire State have questioned the timing of the announced reductions, saying funding needs to remain steady after New York was threatened with disaster.


Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) said in a statement Thursday that "cutting Big Apple homeland security funding to the core is mind-bogglingly bad judgment.

"We got lucky when the Times Square bomber failed," he added. "Now, instead of increasing our odds, the administration is pushing our luck."

The congressman said on MSNBC, "The president is going to get an earful about this no matter where he goes in New York City today."

House Homeland Security ranking member Pete King (R-N.Y.) plans to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about his concerns. 

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also voiced criticism of the plan.

The president will also attend a Democratic fundraiser while he is in New York City, following an economic forum he is holding in Buffalo.

This post was updated at 5:03 p.m.