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New York Lawmakers Accuse Bush of Falling Short on World Trade Center Recovery Funds - 2003-09-03

New York lawmakers are accusing President Bush of falling short on his commitment to provide more than $20 billion in aid to help the city recover from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney launched an investigation into the amount of federal aid that has reached New Yorkers for recovery from the 2001 attacks.

Using data released by the Bush administration and the Office of Management and Budget, she found that only $7 billion of the promised $21.4 billion has actually been paid.

Just days before the second anniversary of the disaster, Ms. Maloney and the speaker of the New York City Council have sent a letter to President Bush, urging the administration to turn over the funds that are "in the pipeline."

Ms. Maloney said New York needs the money now to revive its economy, create jobs and clean up the environment surrounding the destroyed World Trade Center site. "The bottom line is, New Yorkers should not suffer because Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida chose to attack New York in their attack against [the United States of] America," she said. "We shouldn't have higher taxes, we should not have an environment that is that filthy because of it, and we should not have workers, and others who are suffering."

The letter charges that the $21.4 billion aid packaged announced by President Bush in March, 2002 has actually been decreased by $2 billion. The revision is due to estimation errors and taxation of federal grants provided to New Yorkers affected by the attacks.

The lawmakers say the allocated federal aid will only meet about one fourth of New York's financial needs because the terrorist attacks created an estimated $80 to $100 billion in costs, including tax loss.

Now the lawmakers say it is time for President Bush to take greater action to help New York.

President Bush has used the police shield of an officer who died at the World Trade Center as an emblem of the heroes that day.

Speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver asked how that police officer would react to the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq while New Yorkers continue to wait for funds. "I wonder how that police officer would react to the difference between the Bush administration's commitment to rebuilding downtown and the commitment to rebuilding in Iraq. The amount of money that is being spent there versus here," he said.

The lawmakers announced their findings during a panel discussion on New York's recovery. Members of several non-profit organizations called on the federal government to continue post-September 11 mental health programs set to end soon and to assess the long-term health affects of the disaster.