The U.S. Senate's top Democrat says Republican President Donald Trump is coming up short on security for states and cities by proposing to cut hundreds of millions of dollars for their anti-terrorism efforts.
"It makes absolutely no sense" to reduce the money when terrorism remains a looming threat, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, of New York, said Monday.
The White House says the money often lingers unspent.
Trump's budget proposal was released last week. It asks Congress for new spending on border security, including a down payment on Trump's long-promised Mexican border wall. But the administration wants to reduce some other security spending, including what are known as the Urban Area Security Initiative and the State Homeland Security Program.
They aim to help cities and states "prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism," according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency description . New York City, for example, uses the money for purposes ranging from patrolling landmarks to planning responses to a potential catastrophe, according to Schumer, who also tangled with Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration over the funding.
By Schumer's calculations, Trump's budget plan would shrink the urban and state security programs by about 25 percent, to a total of about $800 million.
The White House didn't immediately respond to his remarks. But the administration's budget proposal said that cities and states haven't spent $1.9 billion awarded since 2013. That's nearly half the total awarded over that time.
"The federal government cannot afford to over-invest in programs that state and local partners are slow to utilize when there are other pressing needs," the White House's Office of Management and Budget wrote.
Schumer's office says that because of government procurement rules, it can take time for cities and states to spend the money, but that doesn't mean they haven't allocated or don't need it.
Obama's administration proposed last year to cut the Urban Area Security Initiative from $600 million to $330 million, prompting similar complaints from Schumer and a similar argument from the White House that already-awarded money hadn't been spent.
Schumer announced a couple of months later that Congress' spending plan was restoring the money.