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Democrats Demand More Anti-Terror Funds

(By Siobhan McDonough)

With much attention focused on U.S. troops in Iraq, a Democratic governor urged Congress on Saturday to also provide more money for firefighters, police and other emergency workers who are combating domestic terrorism.

"Whether in the Middle East or in America, the brave and selfless individuals who have pledged to protect us deserve our support," Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.

Governors asked Congress to include adequate funding for fire, police and emergency service workers when it considered the supplemental appropriations for the military action in Iraq.

The House and Senate separately agreed to give President Bush nearly $80 billion to carry out the battle against Iraq and meet the threat of terrorism.

In late-night votes Thursday, the Senate by 93-0 and the House by 414-12, approved bills to provide some $62 billion to replenish defense funds depleted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measures also include about $8 billion for Iraqi reconstruction and foreign aid, more than $4 billion for homeland security and about $3 billion to help the nation's struggling airline industry.

Minner said more resources are needed for police, firefighters and health and medical personnel at a time when the nation is on high alert. These first-responders are training to meet new threats, learning to use sophisticated equipment and preparing for a disaster, she said.

More federal aid would have put more police officers and firefighters on the streets and better communications technology in their hands, she said.

Minner said more resources also are needed to improve the border and coastline security, to protect airports, railroads, ports, nuclear plants and mass transit systems and to enhance defenses against bioterrorism and cyberterrorism.

She urged Bush and Republicans to revisit the bill and do more to provide for homeland security.

Source: www.newsday.com

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