(Reuters) - Saying "we're still under attack,'' President Bush on
Thursday proposed a 2003 homeland security budget of $37.7 billion -- almost
double that of current levels -- to protect the United States against future
- The budget, which Bush outlined in a
White House speech to U.S. city mayors and county leaders on Thursday,
would provide substantial increases in areas the White House said needs
immediate attention in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
- These areas include police, firefighters
and emergency medical teams; securing U.S. borders, combating bioterrorism,
strengthening intelligence sharing, improving transportation security and
supporting other national defense-related initiatives.
- On Wednesday, Bush also proposed the
largest budget increase in military spending for two decades amid his ongoing
war on terrorism.
- ``We're still under attack,'' Bush said.
``They still want to come after us. These are evil people, that are relentless
in their desire to hurt those who love freedom. And since we're the bastion
of freedom, the beacon of freedom, we're their target.''
- Bush proposed an $18.2 billion increase
in the amount of money being spent this year on homeland security, from
$19.5 billion to $37.7 billion, to better prepare the country in the wake
of the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks which caught the United States completely
- The proposed increased spending comes
amid political finger-pointing over a return to U.S. budget deficits as
Democrats complain Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut last year has squeezed
- LACK OF RESOURCES
- The first installment of his homeland
security budget plan would be $3.5 billion to beef up local police, fire
and rescue departments.
- Bush said his homeland security budget
is the start of an initiative that will last throughout his administration
and recognizes that ``the first minutes after an attack are the most hopeful
for saving lives.''
- He said the Federal Emergency Management
Agency would be in charge of coordinating efforts with local governments.
- ``Even the best prepared states and localities
lack adequate resources to respond to the full range of terrorist threats
this country faces,'' the White House in a statement. ``Many areas have
little or no capability to respond to terrorist attacks using weapons of
- The homeland security budget is part
of an overall federal budget blueprint Bush will send to Congress for consideration
in early February for the fiscal year that starts next October.
- On Friday Bush is to announce border
security provisions during a trip to Maine and provisions to combat bioterrorism
and improve intelligence will be rolled out later, a White House official
- Cities were expected to spend $2.6 billion
extra for security between the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and
the end of 2002, according to a survey distributed at the mayors conference.
- PROTECTIVE GEAR AND TRAINING
- Bush's proposal would give $2 billion
to state and local agencies for buying protective clothing, chemical and
biological detection systems and communications gear, the White House said.
- Another $1.1 billion would go toward
training firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians in combating
chemical and biological threats.
- There was also $245 million to fund training
exercises and evaluate problems and potential improvements in emergency
response systems, and $105 million to help state and local governments
develop response plans for terror attacks.
- Federal aid will continue year after
year, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told the mayors on Wednesday.
``This is a major investment. We want to empower cities and states to build
upon their first response capability, then we want to help you sustain
it in the future.''
- The government will give local agencies
flexibility to use some of the money as they see fit, such as for overtime,