This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 13, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We continue our special series that we call "Follow the Money." Tax day is just two short days away. But before you write your check to Washington, we just want to show you just how your government is spending your hard-earned dollars.
Tonight we focus on money that has been allocated to the nation's first responders to prevent or handle a terrorist attack.
Now, after September 11th, lawmakers handed out money freely and generously with little in the way of guidance or restrictions. Local and state officials, they often used the cash to fill a hole in their budgets, to start a pet project, or even reward political allies. Sometimes the cash is used for things that just do not seem relevant.
For example, Prince George, Maryland, they used $500,000 in anti-terror funds to purchase, guess what? Digital cameras.
And sometimes the money doesn't seem to go to the right place. The vacation island of Martha's Vineyard, for example, received over $250,000 for bioterror equipment.
Now, pay attention to the bottom of your screen during this segment, because we're going to be showing you other shocking ways in which money that was intended to prepare towns and cities for terrorism was actually, well, going down the drain.
Joining us now, New York congressman John Sweeney. You tried to put an amendment forward and you've been stopped repeatedly. Tell us what the process is going on here, sir.
REP. JOHN SWEENEY, R-N.Y.: Sean, good to be with you again.
And you're absolutely right. Since 2003, we've had language in Congress in the House of Representatives where it has finally passed, only to be thwarted three times in the Senate: first in the authorization bill for the Department of Homeland Security, secondly in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and fourthly with the appropriations bills for the Department of Homeland Security.
In order to have an effective homeland security, national security policy, we need to be efficient and effective with how we're redistributing these finite resources.
We've expanded about $280 billion — that's billion with a "B" — dollars since 2001 and the initial attacks. Many of those dollars have been used for good purposes. Still yet, many have been used really inefficiently. You've pointed out some of the examples.
What we actually have here is a system, the culture of Congress, if you will — it mostly a problem operating out of the Senate — in which we are actually mandating the inefficient use of money.
HANNITY: put up on the thing. We have summer jobs, car towing. We have money to study the mental health of, you know people in the jail population after 9/11. I get angry when I read this.
SWEENEY: Oh, you should, because it has two effects. It not only is a waste of taxpayer dollars and, as I said again, with finite resources, but secondly, it really undermines the overall efforts to make the nation more you are secure.
There are a lot of needs out there, some of which we are not capable of meeting yet, because possibly we don't have enough money or possibly we don't have a structure in place to establish that. And here you have plasma TVs and gym equipment being purchased under homeland security grant dollars, and it really is taking away from legitimate purposes that need to be addressed.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Congressman, it's Alan Colmes. Thank you for doing our show.
SWEENEY: Hi, Alan.
COLMES: Why is it many of the dollars aren't even being spent? We understand a number of states have allocated in some cases millions and millions of dollars, much of which has remained even still sitting in Washington. Why is that?
SWEENEY: Alan, scary enough, what we have here is a process that is telling states, "Listen, we've got to send you .75 percent of every dollar that's going to go out the door to your state. Find a use for it."
And as you see in some of the examples you've already highlighted, many of those uses are totally inappropriate. And in other instances, there aren't uses for it. The money isn't necessarily needed in those places.
We've asked that the formulation be calculated by risk and threat assessments based on vulnerability, the results of an attack, what would the results be and the consequences that the population would realize.
COLMES: Why is it that so many of these dollars are going to things like leather jackets, as we pointed out, in some cases, and a boat, I think, for one department someplace? But first responders and some of the very equipment that we said was lacking 4 1/2 years ago on 9/11 still not getting out there? How could that be and why is that happening?
SWEENEY: You're absolutely correct. A lot of that is I think it starts with Congress. And as I said, the House has passed it on at least three occasions. I would expect we're going to pass it again in the next couple of weeks two more times.
And we get into conferences with the Senate. And frankly, the small state senators all with equal power have decided that they want to treat this like a highway bill rather than a national security bill.
COLMES: You're blaming the Senate, not the House for this problem, right? You say it's the Senate's fault?
SWEENEY: The first time I offered the amendment in '03, I think I got 171 votes. The second time — or consequently, we've offered it and gotten about 350 votes. So, we've overcome the barriers in the House of Representatives. It's now a matter of — it ought to be a matter of national policy.
HANNITY: Appreciate your time.
SWEENEY: Thanks, Sean.
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