Funding supplements homeland needs

Congress has approved a supplemental wartime budget that includes more money than President Bush wanted for homeland security and extra funding to research the cause of a deadly virus that has infected hundreds of people worldwide.

Lawmakers gave final approval to the fiscal 2003 supplemental budget April 12 and sent it to Bush for his signature. The bill includes $78.5 billion for wartime spending, more than the $74.7 billion the White House originally requested.

Legislators also added items for their own congressional districts and money to help the nation's airline companies pay for additional anti-terrorism measures. They also increased Bush's request for homeland security by $230 million to $3.9 billion.

That money includes $2.23 billion for grants to first responders — $230 million more than the president's request. The money was added in response to complaints to lawmakers from mayors who said Congress was not giving local authorities enough money to provide anti-terrorism equipment to police and firefighters.

In addition, the funds include $142 million to help local governments administer the smallpox vaccine and compensate people harmed by the inoculation.

The budget also earmarked $200 million for grants for critical infrastructure to local governments and special funds earmarked to dense urban areas, such as New York City, that face a heightened security risk because of their location and symbolism.

The budget also includes $162 million for bioterrorism and public health activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received an extra $16 million for comprehensive research on severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

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