President Kills Extra $150M for FIRE Grants as Part of Larger Spending Package

President Bush announced at an economic forum on August 13 that he will block $5.1 billion that Congress had approved for homeland security, including $150 million for this year's FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program that would have brought the total amount of funding to $510 million.  

Bush signed a $28.9 billion emergency supplemental spending measure (H.R. 4775) on August 2, but did not commit to spending the $5.1 billion portion. He had one month to decide whether to spend all or none of the $5.1 billion.

“A lot of that money has nothing to do with national emergency,” Bush said. “I understand their position and today they're going to learn mine - we'll spend none of it.”

Other administration officials said Bush was blocking the money as a signal to Congress to rein in spending. Also, they said, the government financed an array of anti-terror projects with a $40 billion package in October.

He said he would quickly ask Congress to resubmit to him separate funds for “truly pressing needs and priorities,” which he identified as $200 million for AIDS prevention and $250 million that was to be divided between security aid for Israel and disaster assistance for Palestinians.

Other items denied money under Bush's decision include:
  • $90 million for long-term health monitoring of emergency workers at Ground Zero.
  • $100 million to improve the communications systems of firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel nationwide.
  • $54 million for the national Urban Search and Rescue System
  • $39 million to improve and increase inspections of cargo containers entering the U.S.  
  • $82 million to enhance the FBI's counterterrorism technology.
  • $165 million to strengthen security around food and water supplies.
  • $480 million for airport security.
  • $50 million for flood prevention.