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Congress Balks At Bill For Trump Security

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through April, but the legislation contains only $7 million in federal funds to pay for law enforcement overtime costs related to the protection of the president-elect and his family through Inauguration Day.

That is only a fraction of the $35 million that New York City claims to be paying for police protection at Trump Tower during the presidential transition period. The city is claiming massive overtime payments under its union contracts with police, fire and other emergency personnel.

“New York City taxpayers should not be on the hook for 80 percent of the national bill to protect our president-elect and his family's residence,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday in a prepared statement. “We are counting on Congress to step up in the coming months to pay back what it owes our city. This is a national responsibility, and the burden cannot fall alone on our city and police department.”

Mayor de Blasio’s numbers – which translate to $470,000 per day over 75 days – are far in excess of what’s reasonable to fund such an operation on Fifth Avenue, said David Katz, the founder and chief executive officer of Global Security Group Inc. in Manhattan.

The bulk of the funding would go to straight time and overtime for a contingent of perhaps 40 to 50 police officers per shift, assuming around-the-clock protection using three shifts, Katz told AMI Newswire. That would cost around $100,000 to $120,000 per day, he said.

“A rate of $150,000 a day, I could understand that,” Katz said. There would be little in terms of extra equipment costs, but some additional funds would be required for traffic control around the Trump Tower security area, he said.

De Blasio called the security and traffic issues around the Trump Tower a challenge of historic proportion.

The city provides motorcade protection to the Trump family and posts civilian traffic officers in the area to manage traffic disrupted by security operations, de Blasio said.

The actual number of NYPD officers involved in the extra security around Trump Tower is classified, but the number of personnel working around the clock to do the job is unequaled in the history of the presidency, the mayor said. “This is a highly trafficked, dense urban environment, and one that presents an unprecedented and unique target for potential terrorist activity,” de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-ViveritoMark-Viverito said in a letter to congressional leaders. “No other president in modern history has had his primary residence located in such a densely populated neighborhood.”

The $7 million earmarked for the city’s security costs breaks down to just over $93,000 per day, which is close to Katz’s original Trump Tower security estimate for the NYPD.

The security kerfuffle is just the latest flap in the increasingly contentious relationship between the conservative President-elect and his liberal native city.

Mayor de Blasio and other lawmakers have criticized Trump for threatening to turn off the city’s federal spigot over its protection of immigrants and “sanctuary city” status, even as he burdens city's taxpayers with security costs during the transition period.

City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and Councilman Dan Garodnick put up a petition at Change.org calling on Trump to commit to providing federal funds to New York City to offset the Trump Tower security costs. As of Monday, nearly 50,000 people had signed the petition.

“Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the values that represent New York City, while simultaneously drawing upon its resources without appreciation or acknowledgment,” Mark-Viverito said in a prepared statement. “His refusal to base transition operations out of the nation’s capital has placed an unprecedented financial and logistical strain on our city and its first-responders, and it is simply unsustainable.”

Previous estimates had the city spending $1 million a day for Trump Tower security.

The city’s efforts to recover security and traffic-control funding at the Trump Tower will continue even beyond Inauguration Day in 2017, said the mayor’s spokesman, Austin Finan.

“The complex challenges and tremendous costs associated with protecting a president and a president’s family in the heart of Manhattan are truly unprecedented,” Finan said in an email to American Media Institute. “As such, we will be issuing a full-throated request – with support from congressional leadership and our federal partners – for a complete reimbursement for all costs incurred.”

Six members of New York City’s congressional delegation last week sent a letter to de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that took an even tougher line. The letter, authored by Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, called on the state and city to refuse to pay for the Trump Tower security costs once Trump is inaugurated.

The letter referenced the intention of first lady Melania Trump and the couple’s son, Barron, to remain at their Trump Tower apartment after the president-elect moves into the White House.

The extra funds for Trump’s security would be better spent on projects such as affordable housing, more teachers and public safety in elevated-crime areas, they said.

“While I understand the absolute importance of keeping the First Family safe, New Yorkers shouldn’t be footing the bill for President-elect Trump to maintain two permanent residences,” the letter said. “If the incoming First Family were to relocate to the White House with the president-elect, this problem could be solved, but, if that’s not possible, then Mr. Trump needs to pick up the tab.”

New York City, which is also home to many star athletes, rock stars, famous actors, Fortune 500 executives and others celebrities, has not tried to bill any other entity for the protection of those notables.