February 8, 2010
Schumer threatens to block Coast Guard budget proposal
Last week it was House Republicans who were slamming the Obama Administrations FY 2010 Coast Guard budget proposal. Now a prominent Senate Democrat is finding problems with at least one cut back.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer is calling on the Administration to abandon a provision to downsize the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security teams (MSST), including transferring the New York City based team to Boston. The New York City based team is staffed by 90 coast guard personal and was assigned to patrol the harbor and surrounding waterways after 9/11.
Schumer called on the Obama Administration to abandon its plan to transfer the team or he will move in Congress to block it.
“This plan is simply penny wise and pound foolish,” Schumer said. “Since the mission of these teams is to provide security during major events and when there is a specific threat, taking the teams away from New York City would leave us more vulnerable during the most sensitive times. While the Obama Administration is right to seek to consolidate resources where it is warranted, taking the budget ax to New York City when it comes to terror just doesn’t make sense. I urge them to scrap this plan to ensure New York City’s harbor and waterways stay safe and secure.”
Schumer said the New York City MSST performs both port security and harbor security missions, providing additional security for major events but also responding to specific threat activity. For example, when there is a reported threat against the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty, the MSST is charged with providing surveillance and guarding those areas. The team also provides security for other coast guard forces in ports and inland waters
MSSTs are also responsible for boarding suspect vessels, patrolling critical infrastructure, escorting potentially hazardous cargo (i.e. liquid natural gas vessels, liquid propane gas vessels etc), and responding to unanticipated events such as natural disasters etc.
The plan to transfer the New York City MSST to Boston is part of a national consolidation proposed in the budget with New York among the five teams being eliminated or transferred. The budget also eliminates teams in San Francisco, New Orleans, Anchorage, Alaska, and Kings Bay, Ga.,
Congress created the MSST program 2002. Each MSST has at least 75 personnel with approximately 90 stationed in New York City. The New York team is stationed at the Port of New York/New Jersey, the nation’s second largest port.
Schumer has sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano warning that if the Administration moves forward with the plan, he will press to block it in Congress.
“We are very concerned that it would take too long to deploy an MSST team from Boston is cases of extreme threat, disaster or attack,” Schumer added.