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43° Good Morning

Editorial: Keep Capitol's focus on New York and terrorism

Rep. Peter King.

Rep. Peter King. Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Rep. Peter King has been term-limited out as chairman of the powerful House Homeland Security Committee. That's a big loss for New Yorkers.

King (R-Seaford) kept the committee focused on international terrorism, which is a more immediate and life-threatening concern here than it is for residents of other parts of the country.

As a result, police and other public safety agencies got millions of dollars needed to secure the metro area. King directed about $140 million for the Securing the Cities initiative, which put radiation-detection devices around Manhattan to protect it from a nuclear dirty bomb.

King's strength was pushing his colleagues in Congress to distribute more homeland security money based on a region's risk of attack rather than pork barrel politics. He had a partner in Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, but Lieberman is retiring at the end of this year.

Neither of the new chairs is likely to come from the Northeast. So our elected and public officials must keep the pressure on Congress.

Unfortunately, this changing of the guard comes when we now need billions of dollars from Washington to rebuild in the wake of superstorm Sandy. King was key to getting Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to visit Long Island twice.

King made a lot of connections in his more than seven years as committee chairman and he will stay on the panel, serving as head of its terrorism subcommittee. He will also continue on the House Intelligence Committee, the only person to serve on both.

King asked to stay another term as chairman, but House Speaker John Boehner, who had already let him serve beyond the six-year limit for committee chairs, declined to grant him a waiver. Term limits are a good way to guard against sclerotic leadership, so it's hard to fault Boehner's decision.

But chairmanships are powerful jobs in Washington and House Republicans should choose King's successor wisely. The nation needs someone who appreciates the threat New Yorkers live with every day. With all that's happened to us, we don't need to fear that Washington isn't concerned about our fears.


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