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Proposed US Budget Includes $41B to Fight Terrorism - 2003-02-04

President George Bush has earmarked more than $41.3 billion to support efforts to fight terrorism in his budget plan for 2004. A substantial amount goes to the newly-created Department of Homeland Security.

The allocation for fighting terrorism in the 2004 budget represents more than a seven percent increase over this year's plan. The administration's Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge says the budget proposal, if approved, would give his agency $36.2 billion.

Mr. Ridge says that increase underlines the priority President Bush has put on protecting Americans from potential terrorist attacks.

"Today, the president has requested a budget, which reflects his continuing and very clear commitment to standing behind the priorities and the mission of the new Department of Homeland Security," he said.

Some members of Congress have complained the administration is not allocating enough to do the job.

Mr. Ridge told reporters, legislators who complain should first do something about this year's budget, which still has not been approved.

Mr. Ridge says he is counting on cooperation with local government and the private sector to enhance security measures.

The Department of Homeland Security, which was established last year, will consolidate several government agencies dealing with such issues as security, emergency services and immigration.