Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly today defended the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to homeland security grant programs that help state and local first responders and emergency response agencies (TR Daily, May 23). “In a perfect world, I’d love to fund everything,” Mr. Kelly told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during a budget hearing. But state and local agencies do not need federal help as much as they did in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, he said. “Fifteen years on, we are in a different place locally and federally in terms of protecting the homeland,” he testified.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), the committee’s ranking member, and Tom Carper (D., Del.) were among those questioning the administration’s priorities in light of the reduced grant funding.
“The heinous acts of terror carried out last week in Manchester and London should remind us of the security vulnerabilities of public places and ‘soft targets’ here in the United States,” Sen. Carper said in a statement. “Yet the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security cuts more than $800 million in grant funding for state and local first responders to prepare for major disasters and emergencies,” Sen. Carper said.
“The budget proposal zeroes out DHS’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts to combat radicalization and homegrown terrorism,” he added. “This approach is nothing short of penny wise and pound foolish.” —Tom Leithauser, email@example.com