Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 14 January 2011 00:00
Members of the 112th Congress were sworn in last Wednesday with the lone Republican from the Long Island delegation back in his old job as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
When the Republicans took control of Congress last November it was widely expected that Rep. Peter King (R.-Seaford) would return to the post he served in from 2005 to 2007. And in early December, he was formally elected to his old chairmanship by members of the Republican Conference all on a recommendation by the Republican Party Steering Committee.
“I am honored to have been selected as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee by the Republicans of the 112th Congress,” King said upon his election. “I look forward to working with Speaker John Boehner, the new Republican Leadership, and the entire incoming Republican Majority to protect our homeland from the terrorists who continue to plot and execute attacks against our nation.”
Rep. King’s agenda for the committee remain essentially the same from his previous tenure. Last month, he listed his top priorities once he assumes his chairmanship. They include such security measures as improving cargo security on passenger planes and on cargo-only planes, enacting additional border security legislation to curb illegal immigration, strengthening the Securing the Cities Initiative to protect Americans from radiological and nuclear devices, and bolstering national cybersecurity by fortifying the defenses of federal networks and promoting partnerships with the private sector to protect against cyberattack.
Rep. King also said his committee would conduct an oversight of Department of Homeland Security operations. He has also stated his opposition to plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. and put them on trial in civilian courts.
For the past four years, when the Democrats controlled Congress, Rep. King, in his capacity as ranking minority member, worked with the majority to help increase transit security funding from $97 million to $151 million, port security funding by $17 million and total homeland security funding for the New York area by $176 million.
In interviews following the November 2010 election, King admitted that tough economic times might mean less funding, but he added that would keep Washington focused on the terrorist threat still facing such a huge metropolitan area as New York. Both King and Rep. Michael Grimm (R.-Staten Island), the only two Republicans in Congress from the New York City area, hope to impress their GOP colleagues on the importance on homeland security funding to New York, since along with Washington, DC, it is the top terrorist target in the nation. In published interviews, Rep. King has claimed that New York has been “shortchanged for too many years,” adding that such funding is different, as it is a “matter of life and death.”
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress created a Security for the Cities program, one designed to protect large cities such as New York from radiological device attacks. In 2007, when the House Appropriation committee attempted to make cuts in the program, Rep. King introduced legislation on the floor of Congress that restored the program to its prior $40 million in funding.