By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Department of Homeland Security has notified more than 30 cities across that country that they are about to lose anti-terror funding from the federal government.
The department said Thursday that money for the Urban Areas Security Initiative grants has been cut by millions as part of a larger budget cut that eliminated more than $780 million in grant money from the latest federal budget. The budget cuts mean that only 31 high-threat urban areas, including New York and Washington, will still receive grants this year.
The grant program was launched in 2003 in response to security threats in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Initially, New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston were eligible for the grant money. Since 2008 more than 60 cities have been awarded the risk-based grants.
In Fiscal Year 2010, 54 smaller cities were eligible to split almost $310 million in funding. Ten larger, higher-risk cities, like New York and Washington, vied for about $525 million. Thirty cities in 23 states and Washington will now share more than $662 million dollars.
The department plans to announce which cities will no longer be eligible later Thursday.
A government official with knowledge of the situation said cities being cut from the program include Providence, R.I., Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La., Tucson, Ariz., and four cities in New York. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the cuts had not been announced.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Connecticut stands to lose about half of the Homeland Security money its cities have received in recent years.
He said Bridgeport and Hartford, which received a combined $5.5 million last year, are among the cities being cut from the program.
“I understand that everyone must sacrifice to bring our federal deficit under control,” Lieberman said in a statement issued Wednesday. “But I do not support cutting the budget on the back of our national security, particularly since foreign and homegrown terrorists will continue to strike us at home.”
Associated Press writer Ian MacDougall in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.
Alicia A. Caldwell be reached at http://twitter.com/acaldwellap.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)