Bush pledges aid to mayors
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jan 24, 2002
Text of President Bush's speech on increases in the homeland security
President Bush's proposal to increase homeland security spending to nearly
$38 billion for the next fiscal year almost double what it is now
includes more resources for America's police officers, firefighters and
emergency rescue workers.
The announcement came Jan. 24 during a 20-minute White House speech
to about 300 mayors. The city leaders have been asking the federal government
for more money to help them cope with unprecedented spending on overtime
pay, equipment and training since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Of the proposed spending, such first responders would receive about
$3.5 billion, a tenfold increase from this year's amount, which Bush termed
"necessary money." He also announced that the Federal Emergency Management
Agency would administer first-responder funds.
"Part of our task is to recognize [that] there are 36,000 local jurisdictions
all around the country," Bush said. "And how do we make sure there are some
standards?... How do we make sure information flows properly? How do we
make sure there's mutual aid agreements in the neighborhoods? How do we
make sure that the communications equipment and the rescue equipment [are]
compatible not only within a state but nationwide? Those are the tasks ahead,
and that's part of the challenge we face."
According to White House officials, the first-responder funding will
be allocated as follows:
* $105 million would support state and local government planning and
preparation for a terrorist attack.
* $2 billion would purchase equipment, including protective gear, chemical
and biological weapon detection systems, and interoperable communications
* $1.1 billion would go toward training first responders.
* $245 million would support regular exercises to improve response time,
practice mutual aid and assess operations.
After Bush's speech, several mayors reacted enthusiastically to the
It's a "giant leap in the right direction," said New Orleans Mayor Marc
Morial, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (www.usmayors.org), which held its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., this
week. The conference shifts to New York City through Jan. 26 for discussions
on the economy and a memorial for victims of the terrorist attack.
Although Bush gave no specifics, Morial said it's likely any funding
would be used for training, equipment and capacity building. And although
there is a "commitment to flexibility" in terms of how the money could be
used, he said he didn't know whether any of the funding could be used cover
expenses already incurred. He guessed the money would be earmarked for future
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents cities with populations
of more than 30,000, released a survey Jan. 23 projecting that cities nationwide
would spend an additional $2.6 billion on security through 2002.
Nationwide, there are more than 1 million firefighters, of which 750,000
are volunteers. Local police departments have 556,000 full-time employees,
including 436,000 sworn officers. Sheriff's departments have 291,000 full-time
employees, of which 186,000 are sworn officers. And there are more than
155,000 nationally registered emergency medical technicians.
Bush is expected to release his proposed budget in February. The federal
government's fiscal year begins Oct. 1.