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Bush Signs $31 Billion Homeland Security Bill

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American 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, the president noted the U.S. Congress-approved legislation "commits $31 billion to securing our nation, over $14 billion more than pre-Sept. 11 levels."

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

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

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

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

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

More than $900 million is allocated for science and industry projects, "including a major effort to anticipate and counter the use of biological weapons," the president pointed out. The bill also provides more than $800 million to assess potential vulnerability across the nation's critical infrastructures. And, if vulnerabilities are discovered, "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 to confront terrorism wherever it may be. And, "we've been charged to protect our homeland, as well," he said, noting that the bill he signed is "a major step forward" in that ongoing effort.

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