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Ridge Promotes Homeland Security Legislation - 2002-07-21

U.S. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge Sunday promoted legislation that would create a cabinet level Homeland Security Department, as key votes loom this week on President Bush's proposal.

In an appearance on the television program Fox News Sunday, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge reassured Americans the White House is doing all it can ensure their safety and fight terrorism at home.

"I think there's great reason to be reassured that this country, creating strategic partnerships with state and local government with the private sector in the years ahead, will do everything conceivable, everything humanly and technologically possible to preserve our way of life and our citizens," he said.

Key to that effort, according to Mr. Ridge, is Congress' approval of President Bush's proposal to create a $38 billion Homeland Security cabinet level department.

The president and many members of Congress are hoping lawmakers will act on the measure before they break for their summer recess within the next two weeks.

Among them: Republican leader, Congressman Dick Armey. Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, Mr. Armey brushed aside those who say more time is needed to consider the massive homeland security bill.

"Everything the president has asked for he's gotten in terms of all the agencies he wants consolidated. We've done a good job," he said. "It conforms with the president's plan. It's time to move it forward."

The U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Customs Service, Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the newly formed Transportation Security Administration would be placed under control of the new department.

The Homeland Security Department would also gather and analyze information from the FBI and CIA, among other intelligence agencies.