President Bush Signs $31 Billion Homeland Security Bill

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Bush Signs $31 Billion Homeland Security Bill

By Gerry J. GilmoreAmerican Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2003 -- President George W. Bush today signed legislation providing$31 billion for Homeland Security purposes for fiscal 2004.

During a signing ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security headquarters here, thepresident noted the U.S. Congress-approved legislation "commits $31 billion tosecuring our nation, over $14 billion more than pre-Sept. 11 levels."

The bill provides money "for the key responsibilities at the Department ofHomeland Security," the president pointed out, such as $5.6 billion earmarked forProject BioShield to develop methods to protect Americans against biological, chemical andradiological threats.

Additionally, $4 billion goes to police, fire, medical and other emergency firstresponders nationwide, Bush noted. More than $700 million of that money, he said, will betargeted for use in urban areas where it's most needed.

The president said $40 million is earmarked for volunteer groups that will work withlocal first responders to prepare for emergencies.

"We're ensuring that America's firefighters and police officers and emergencymedical personnel have the best possible training and equipment and help they need to dotheir job," Bush emphasized.

Money will also be provided to beef up security at the nation's airports and alongAmerica's borders, the president said. The bill, he continued, also provides the CoastGuard with "the resources to deploy additional maritime safety and security teams andpatrol boats and the sea marshals to protect our ports and waterways."

More than $900 million is allocated for science and industry projects, "includinga major effort to anticipate and counter the use of biological weapons," thepresident pointed out. The bill also provides more than $800 million to assess potentialvulnerability across the nation's critical infrastructures. And, if vulnerabilities arediscovered, "we'll take action to protect them," the president declared.

Bush said the U.S. armed forces and other agencies continue to take actions abroad toconfront terrorism wherever it may be. And, "we've been charged to protect ourhomeland, as well," he said, noting that the bill he signed is "a major stepforward" in that ongoing effort.