Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 12 November 2010 00:00
With the Republican Party takeover of Congress, the GOP’s lone representative on Long Island, Rep. Peter King (R.-Seaford), is set to regain his old post as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
From 2005 to 2007, King served as chairman of that high profile committee. First elected in 1992, King’s early years in Congress were noted by his involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process and his standing, in 1998, as one of the few Republicans not to vote against all four articles of impeachment against then-President Bill Clinton. However, since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, King’s profile shifted towards national security.
Reports have speculated that King’s chairmanship would mean more federal dollars coming New York’s way. And indeed, during his prior tenure as chairman and even when the GOP was in the minority, King was able to help increase funding for the department’s New York operations. 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. From 2006 to 2008, Rep. King, even though he was in the minority, helped to 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 recently-concluded 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.
In recent years, Rep. King has been a somewhat lonely figure in New York politics. After the 1994 election, every congressional district within either Nassau or Suffolk County proper was Republican. Starting in 1996, with the election of Carolyn McCarthy, Long Islanders began electing Democrats to virtually all of those same seats. Prior to this year’s election, King, along with upstate congressman Chris Lee, was the only Republican in New York’s 27-man strong congressional delegation. This year, he got some company, as five new Republican members were elected from New York, four of them coming from districts in either Westchester County or upstate New York, and one from the traditionally Republican 10th Congressional District in south Brooklyn and Staten Island.