Tags: Bush: | $38 | Billion | for | Homeland | Security

Bush: $38 Billion for Homeland Security

Thursday, 24 January 2002 12:00 AM

Calling the war abroad against terrorism the first priority of his government, the president said "the second priority of our government ... is making sure we protect the people at home, homeland defense. I'll be calling on Congress to pass a funding increase for homeland defense of ... an additional $38 billion."

The president said this was double the pre-Sept. 11 numbers and "the beginning of a homeland defense initiative which is going to last throughout my administration."

The money would be used to secure U.S. borders and ports, combat bioterrorism, support first responders, strengthen intelligence sharing, improve transportation security and communications and pay for some Defense Department programs in continental defense.

It will mean significant increases in anti-terrorism operations of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Border Patrol, Customs Service, Coast Guard and funding the new Transportation Security Administration, which covers security in air, rail, ship and land travel.

In an address in the White House East Room to 300 U.S. mayors, Bush said that $3.5 billion of the $38 billion would be earmarked to improve the preparedness of the "first responders," the nearly 1.8 million members of local law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical teams.

The funds recognize, the president said, that "the first minutes or hours after an attack, are the most hopeful minutes for saving lives... therefore, we've got to understand and remember the important role of first responders. It became vivid, obviously, on Sept. 11th."

Bush said that $3.5 billion would be dispensed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by his longtime aide Joe Allbaugh. Bush's dispersion plan has been a sore point with police and city government officials who fear that FEMA will deal with state governments and governors instead of city halls and local police agencies.

Some members of Congress are closely watching homeland security money and intend to make sure that important funding streams continue to flow directly to cities and local governments and are not diverted to the states first.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is set to meet with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Saturday to address this very issue.

Late last year, Clinton introduced legislation designed to help ensure that flow continues. Her "Homeland Security Block Grant Act" would spend $3 billion on homeland security and guarantee that 70 percent of that money goes to more than 1,000 cities.

"In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on our country, communities all across America now find themselves on the front lines in the war against terrorism," Clinton said when she introduced the bill late last year.

The Bush administration sidestepped the issue Thursday. A spokesman for the Homeland Security program said that how the money will flow from Washington to responders would be in a formula to be announced when the president's 2003 budget is published on Feb. 4.

The $3.5 billion will cover:

As the event was completed Thursday, the president told the mayors to their resounding applause that "we find ourself in a moment of history where we, as leaders, must respond, and we will, and we will respond. It is – sometimes you get to pick your moments and sometimes you don't.

"And we're here now in the middle of a war, and I want to thank you all for understanding the call. And we're not going to blink as a nation, and I know you won't blink as mayors. You accept your responsibility, and I accept mine." Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Calling the war abroad against terrorism the first priority of his government, the president said the second priority of our government ... is making sure we protect the people at home, homeland defense. I'll be calling on Congress to pass a funding increase for homeland...
Bush:,$38,Billion,for,Homeland,Security
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2002-00-24
Thursday, 24 January 2002 12:00 AM
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