WASHINGTON (January 24, 2002) - The U.S. Conference of Mayors reacted enthusiastically today to President Bush's announcement that he will ask Congress to approve $3.5 billion in new assistance to local and state homeland security efforts. The proposed assistance is part of a $37.7 billion package for homeland security to help cities pay for new equipment and training for police, fire and emergency workers.
The announcement, which would more than double current federal spending levels, was made in a White House speech to 300 mayors who are in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss homeland and economic security issues. The President also said he will ask Congress to increase spending on public health services to deal with threats of bio-terrorism, border control, intelligence sharing and improvements to transportation security.
"This is a leap forward in the right direction to strengthen America's front-line of defense," said New Orleans Mayor, Marc Morial, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "America's cities have been paying exclusively for the added security we need to deal with the new reality of terrorist threats. President Bush's announcement is recognition that the work we do on the front lines in our cities is a benefit to the entire country and deserves a federal commitment of resources. We are very pleased with this decision and look forward to working with the administration on the details in the weeks and months to come."
During the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual Winter Meeting yesterday, Governor Tom Ridge, Director of Homeland Security, stated that assistance will be flexible and part of a long term commitment to help cities finance equipment, training and overtime for emergency workers.
The Conference released a study this week that projects at least $2.6 billion in additional homeland security costs for cities from last September 11 to the end of this year.
After two days in Washington to discuss homeland security issues, the mayors are moving by train today to New York City where on Friday they will start two days of meetings about economic security. The mayors also will pay tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and visit Ground Zero as well.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.
Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766
Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719
Chris Hayes, (202) 326-1768