White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest slammed Sen. Chuck Schumer today, questioning the New York senator’s “credibility” on national security issues.
The rare White House criticism of the Senate’s number two Democrat came after Schumer blasted the decision to cut counter-terrorism funding in President Obama’s budget proposal.
“In light of recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and the vow by our extremist enemies to launch more attacks on our shores, it makes no sense for bureaucrats in Washington to propose cuts to vital terror-prevention programs like UASI,” Schumer said in a statement on Sunday, referring to the Urban Areas Security Initiative. “These proposed cuts are ill-advised and ill-timed and they must be reversed. End of story.”
Earnest defended the president’s budget proposal, saying the administration is committed to strong investments in counter-terrorism programs. But he also took a shot at Schumer, who last year found himself at odds with the White House when he opposed the Iran nuclear deal.
“This administration's investment in making sure that communities across the country, including New York, are to fight terrorism and to protect the homeland are ironclad,” Earnest told reporters today. “I would point out that the amount of funding that is devoted to protecting New York and making sure that law enforcement officials in New York have the resources that they need is higher than the amount of money that's provided to local communities across the country.”
“At some point, Senator Schumer's credibility in talking about national security issues, particularly when the facts are as they are when it relates to homeland security, have to be affected by the position that he's taken on other issues,” Earnest added. “When people look at the facts here when it comes to funding for homeland security, they'll recognize that he's wrong this time, too.”
The program facing potential cuts is the Urban Area Security Initiative, which helps cities prevent and respond to terrorism. The program was funded at $600 million in fiscal year 2016, but the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 allots $330 million for the initiative.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton have joined Schumer in criticizing the funding cuts.