Democrats Call for $5 Billion Supplemental to Boost Homeland Security Dept.

Posted February 27, 2003 at 2:19pm

Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) led a call for additional Homeland Security spending Thursday as Senate Democrats issued a D-minus to the new Homeland Security Department.

With the Bush administration admitting this week that not enough money has been budgeted for homeland security, Democrats campaigned for a $5 billion supplemental spending bill they will likely introduce next month.

Democratic Sens. Daschle, Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) were particularly concerned with first responders, borders, airports, seaports and other major infrastructure not receiving enough funding to protect against future terrorist attacks.

“We aren’t doing even close enough to make sure we are safe at home,” Schumer said.

The Democrats all agreed that while the administration is focused on making money available for a possible war with Iraq, it is not making a concerted effort to keep the United States safe within its borders.

“We should make the same investment in our frontline men and women as we do our men and women in uniform,” Clinton said.

She pointed out that every time a terrorist alert goes into effect, states incur large expenses as they attempt to pay for national security with local budgets.

“This is a national problem that deserves a national response, and we’re not getting it,” Clinton added.

And although the terror alert was lowered Thursday from high to elevated, Schumer said, it was not a sign to be complacent.

The Senators conceded that the administration’s concession on Homeland Security spending was their “first glimmer of hope for success” for the $5 billion bill.

“The real bottom line is the administration hasn’t done two things: They refuse to spend money and have no desire to figure out how to deal with these problems,” Schumer said.