Napolitano, Senate Dems buck homeland security budget cuts

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• Reducing Justice Department spending on information sharing by $100 million.

An HR1 amendment — proposed by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat — reallocated $560 million from Homeland Security’s science and technology division to the SAFER program, which helps fund firefighters’ salaries across the country.

Stewart Baker, a senior homeland security official in the George W. Bush administration, called the move “a disaster, in particular because the money is going to members of the firefighters’ labor unions.”

“It’s very strange to me that this new freshman class of tea party lawmakers should decide that the first thing they want to do is write a big, big check to the unions by getting rid of homeland security R-and-D [research and development],” he said.

Mr. Baker said the SAFER money would be “piddled away in overtime payments in a year or two with nothing to show for it once it’s gone, instead of providing substantial R-and-D benefits that would have helped strengthen our security for years to come.”

Research and development activities in the science and technology division “would basically have to stop for the rest of the year” if the cut is enacted, one Democratic congressional staffer said.

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