Mayors request direct federal homeland security funding for cities

In the face of a war and continuing terrorist threats, the mayors of U.S. cities are calling on Congress and the Bush administration to provide them with direct homeland security funding.

The appeal was set forth in the economic plan agreed upon by more than 300 mayors who met in the nation's capital this week for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors of Washington.

The mayors are fearful that cities will be bypassed if federal funds are allocated to them through the states. Cities can't afford to wait for "struggling state bureaucracies" to reallocate the urgently needed first-responder resources, the group said.

The mayors, however, also urged the federal government to allocate a portion of the homeland security funding for states to support regional partnerships.

President Bush recommended $3.5 billion for a first responders initiative in January 2002, but the 107th Congress adjourned without providing the resources needed by police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

"Cities have made massive investments in homeland security at a time when the weak national economy has already seriously strained their budgets, said Thomas Menino, the group's president and mayor of Boston.

"Our new report predicts weak job growth and that is simply not acceptable. We must make strategic investments now in homeland security, transportation, housing and job training in order to put people back to work and expand the economy."

U.S. cities have spent more than $2.6 billion since Sept. 11, 2001, on homeland security, according to the group.

In their economic plan announced Jan. 22, the mayors said that they support sending homeland security funding directly to cities that provide first responders to defend the nation's homeland.

Earlier this month, the mayor's group called on the 108th Congress to provide the funding either through individual appropriations bills, an omnibus bill or a continuing resolution.

In addition to homeland security funding, the other key elements of the mayors' economic plan are economic assistance, strategic investments to create jobs, tax changes to spur long-term economic growth and fiscal relief.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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