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Bush Focuses on Domestic Terrorism Response - 2002-04-09

President Bush focused Monday on the domestic response to terrorism. He urged Americans to volunteer to help local police, firefighters and emergency medical services. And he called on Congress to pass legislation to help businesses get insurance policies to cover losses from possible terrorist attacks.

The president is pushing participation in a program that bolsters police and emergency teams with volunteers.

One of the most successful efforts of this kind is in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, where Mr. Bush toured a police department volunteer training center. He called it a "model for the nation." "I want to thank the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, for showing Americans how best to help their communities," he said.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush called on Americans to get involved in community service. As part of the war on terrorism, he announced the creation of the "Citizen Corps" a program which provides government funding for local initiatives like the one in Knoxville. Similar volunteer efforts have been launched in more than 40 major communities nationwide from Florida to California to Washington, D.C. Mr. Bush urged more Americans to answer the call. "If you want to help America, step up and serve your community. And there are ways to do that," he said. "There are ways to do so on the forefront of the war and on the strategy to make sure America is better prepared."

After returning to the White House from Tennessee, the president talked about the impact fighting terrorism has had on the domestic economy.

For many big businesses from construction companies to professional sports teams one of the biggest problems resulting from the September 11th terrorist attacks deals with insurance coverage.

Many insurance companies are now refusing to write policies that cover losses due to terrorist attacks. The little that is available comes at an extraordinarily high price.

Mr. Bush called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that will provide government help. He made specific mention of the crisis facing the construction industry because banks are reluctant at best to finance uninsured projects. "If people can't buy insurance on a construction project, they are not going to build the project. And if they don't build the project, somebody is not working," he said.

The House passed legislation to increase the availability of terrorism insurance late last year, but the measure has yet to be scheduled for Senate action.