May 10, 2012, 1:20 PM ET
In Congress, City’s Lawmakers Tackle NYPD Surveillance
A protest in November against the New York Police Department’s alleged surveillance of Muslim communities.
Most of New York City’s House delegation backed a failed measure to rebuke the New York Police Department’s intelligence-gathering efforts focused on Muslim groups.
Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced an amendment to a Justice Department appropriations bill that would have blocked spending on police programs found to violate the U.S. Constitution or federal antidiscrimination laws. The measure, Holt made clear, was part of his broader push to stop the NYPD’s counterterrorism and surveillance efforts focused on Muslims.
“My amendment would ensure that no federal funds are flowing to any law-enforcement entity that the [Justice] Department has identified as engaging in racial, ethnic, and religious profiling,” he said in introducing the measure.
It failed Wednesday night in a largely party-line vote, 232 to 193. Almost all of New York City overwhelmingly Democratic House delegation voted in favor of the amendment.
Only Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm and Queens Rep. Robert Turner, the city’s two Republicans, voted against it. Two Long Island lawmakers, Republican Rep. Peter King and Democrat Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, also opposed the amendment.
The NYPD’s counterterrorism tactics have come under scrutiny as the result of an Associated Press probe into efforts targeting Muslim groups in the city and across the region, including in New Jersey. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have defended the department’s approach as necessary and legal.