A bipartisan group of New Jersey's federal lawmakers have asked the Homeland Security Department to explain why the state's federal grants are shrinking.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, the members of Congress asked for a meeting so officials can explain why the amount of homeland security grants going to the state was reduced to $29 million in 2015 from $61 million in 2010. The funds go for counterterrorism equipment and training.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker says a new Homeland Security threat ranking could mean cuts in federal grant money going to New Jersey
"We remain troubled by the disproportionately low" allocation of funds to the state, compared with "its high threat environment," the lawmakers wrote, seeking help to "ensure New Jersey has the resources necessary to more effectively combat these threats."
Homeland Security spokesman Justin Greenberg had no comment.
"Given the high threat environment in major metropolitan areas, it is deeply concerning that DHS has allocated fewer funds from this grant program for New Jersey," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6th Dist.).
In April, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, used the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is part of Homeland Security, to reconsider the agency's threat assessment scoresfor parts of New Jersey, which he said would lower the amount of federal funds the state would receive.
Those preparedness grants went to 28 urban areas designated as high-threat. The lower score meant the Jersey City/Newark/New Brunswick area would receive $20 million during the current fiscal year, down from $21 million, according to Booker's office. The region included Newark Liberty International Airport, Port Newark/Elizabeth, Amtrak and a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike that doubled as Interstate 95.
The lawmakers signing the letter were Booker, Pallone, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.), Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd Dist.), Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.), Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), Albio Sires (D-8th Dist.), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9th Dist.), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-20th Dist.) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.).