Clinton: 'Not much' homeland help

U.S. Conference of Mayors

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said her staff is releasing a study Jan. 24

at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice showing how much money cities

and counties have received to help them shoulder the burden of homeland

security since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The answer is not much," she told a crowded room of mayors today at

the U.S. Conference of Mayors' 71st winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

Clinton's comments followed those by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

(D-Calif.), who attacked the Bush administration for putting forth a weak

economic growth plan that forgot about states and localities.

Since Sept. 11, mayors and other local government representatives said

they faced a collective $2.6 billion burden in protecting their cities and

counties. Most state governments also are facing considerable budget revenue

shortfalls that could further worsen the situation for municipalities.

Nearly a year ago, President Bush pledged first responder funding to

the tune of $3.5 billion, of which a large percentage would be funneled

through state governments. But cities have yet to receive such funds, and

city officials have complained bitterly at times about the federal government's

approval pace. Tom Ridge, newly designated Homeland Security Department

secretary, several weeks ago told local government representatives that

the money was indeed coming.

Clinton, who sponsored legislation last year for direct homeland security

block grants to cities, re-introduced the bill Jan. 7.

She said she understood that Medicare and Medicaid costs, unfunded federal

mandates and dwindling revenues have made the situation worse. Clinton,

who received a standing ovation after her speech, said she'll seek full

funding for the homeland security block grant bill or some other formula,

regardless of who gets credit for delivering funding.

Pelosi, who acknowledged her speech was more partisan than she wanted

it to be, said the Democrats have put together an economic plan that would

favor tax cuts for the middle- and lower-income classes, create more jobs

and provide more relief to state and local governments. Republicans, she

claimed, are saying that they can't provide first responder funding because

it is a wartime budget.

Both Democrats urged mayors to step up their lobbying of Congress and

the White House.

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