Peter King — Homeland Security Committee

A powerful voice from near Ground Zero

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 Updated:

Peter T. King, one of just two Republicans in New York’s current 28-member House delegation, has represented much of Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties since 1993. Earlier this year, the lawmaker from New York’s 3rd Congressional District considered a run for U.S. Senate against appointed incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, but ultimately opted to run for re-election to his House seat.

King, 66, is expected to seek his old position as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, a panel that oversees the border, port and transportation security, terrorism preparedness, U.S. Customs, and analysis of homeland security information. However, because of Republican term limits for committee chairmen and ranking members, King would likely require a waiver from the GOP steering committee to serve as chairman.

King took charge of the committee in mid-2005 after Republican Christopher Cox of California resigned to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the 2006 election put Democrats back in control of the House, King became the most senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.

A frequent spokesman for his party on television news programs, King made headlines earlier this year when he clashed with fellow New Yorker Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, over the procedure used to consider a bill to provide medical services for 9/11 responders, which both members supported. King also made headlines as a critic of plans to build the Cordoba House, an Islamic center, a few blocks from Ground Zero.

Although his voting record has been consistently anti-abortion and against embryonic stem-cell research, King is by most measures a relatively moderate Republican. He was one of just four House Republicans who voted no on all four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton in 1998. More recently, King voted with the Democratic majority in the last Congress to raise the minimum wage, expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and pass the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout just weeks before the end of the Bush administration.

Until 2005, King was a backer of Sinn Fein, a political party tied to the Irish Republican Army, which supported Irish control in Northern Ireland.

Top PAC contributors

  • New York Life Insurance Co., a company that provides both insurance and mutual funds — at least $21,000
  • AT&T, the telecommunications giant — at least $20,000
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, a labor union representing 400,000 heavy equipment operators, mechanics, and others — at least $20,000
  • American Hospital Association, a trade association for the hospital industry — at least $18,500
  • American Maritime Officers Retirees Association, a group of retired maritime officers — at least $18,000
  • PACs gave at least $1,055,607 to King’s campaign account and his Know-How and Integrity for our National Government PAC

Revolving door

  • Jonathan Hymes, former chief of staff, is now a lobbyist for the American Optometric Association

Earmarks

  • Between 2008 and 2010, King successfully obtained $487.2 million in earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • Obtained two earmarks totaling more than $412 million for improvements to the Long Island Rail Road and a new terminal beneath Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.
  • Obtained $1.6 million for JP-5 Manifold (Globe) Electric Valve Operator (EVOs) for Curtis Wright Corp.’s division that makes valves for nuclear plants, Navy ships, and oil refineries
  • Obtained $1 million for UH-60 MEDEVAC and Search and Rescue Thermal Imaging Upgrades from FLIR Systems, Inc
  • Obtained $1.6M for aircraft upgrades from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp

Stimulus letters

  • King voted against the 2009 stimulus bill but requested $8.4 million for transportation improvements sought by the Town of Islip. Among those improvements: reconstruction of a dock in Bay Shore, N.Y., sidewalk upgrades in Long Island’s Brentwood community, and traffic sign preemption technology for emergency vehicles

Ethical issues

  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has noted that King’s sister and son are both registered lobbyists. Though the group notes it is legal for relatives of members to lobby, CREW argues “the unique access offered to these lobbyists creates a situation ripe for abuse”

Campaign promises

  • King backed the House GOP’s “Pledge to America,” embracing its “common sense agenda for securing our homeland.” King added, “Keeping Guantanamo detainees and other terrorists out of America; trying terrorists, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, in military commissions instead of civilian courts; strengthening visa security; securing our borders against illegal immigration; and enforcing our immigration laws are all critical tools in our fight to secure our homeland and protect the lives of Americans”

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