Monday :: Jan 10, 2005

White House Sticks D.C. With Costs Of Inauguration, Depleting District's Homeland Security Funds

by Steve

How important is it for Republicans to be able to party at Wís inauguration? So important that the Bush Administration wants to force the District of Columbia to pay the costs of the local security at the inauguration out of its homeland security funds, because the White House refuses to pay its share of the costs itself.

D.C. officials said yesterday that the Bush administration is refusing to reimburse the District for most of the costs associated with next week's inauguration, breaking with precedent and forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects.

Federal officials have told the District that it should cover the expenses by using some of the $240 million in federal homeland security grants it has received in the past three years -- money awarded to the city because it is among the places at highest risk of a terrorist attack.

But that grant money is earmarked for other security needs, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said in a Dec. 27 letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Williams's office released the letter yesterday.

Williams estimated that the city's costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said.

A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees the District, agreed with the mayor's stance. He called the Bush administration's position "simply not acceptable."

"It's an unfunded mandate of the most odious kind. How can the District be asked to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?" said Davis spokesman David Marin.

The region has earmarked federal homeland security funds for such priorities as increasing hospital capacity, equipping firefighters with protective gear and building transit system command centers.

Thatís right. Sticking the District with the tab so that a bunch of Republicans can party is more important than providing Washington D.C. firefighters with protective gear. I guess the threat level is really nonexistent now if the White House thinks that the District doesnít need its homeland security money.

I think it is only fair that taxpayers in the District file a class-action lawsuit against the Bush Administration for forcing the District to shoulder an unfunded mandate that is not a direct function of the federal government to the detriment of the health and safety of the citizens of the District.

Steve :: 11:19 PM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!