New York has drawn down only $4,470 of the $49 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security's port security fund, federal officials said, and has tapped zero dollars from its transit security grant of $147 million.
The money, earmarked for New York State, sits in a federal bank account, waiting to be spent.
New York officials have defended their claim that the administration is cutting overall security funding by pointing out that budgets are dynamic, and that the federal funding stream has to be constant in order to fund multi-year projects or to keep police officers with salaries employed.
Overall, New York will receive $47 million more this year than last, although less from the DHS grants themselves. Much of the new money comes from the 2009 stimulus package. Today, a White House spokesperson, Nicholas Shapiro, said that one third of every DHS grant dollar for ports and transit funding will be spent in New York City.
Today, city officials and radio jocks picked through the DHS's grant allocations to find examples where funding didn't seem to make sense, like Cheyenne, Wyoming. The DHS announced its $790 million in grants today, though lawmakers were briefed on the funding distribution a while ago. New York politicians, including Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Anthony Weiner, seizing President Obama's visit to the city, are trying to force the administration to keep DHS's funding levels constant.
But the news that the state hasn't tapped the money that it has already been awarded may frustrate the attempt to box in the president.