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Photo: Murray Speaking

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - This morning, Sen. Patty Murray joined four Senate colleagues in calling for the President to support increased resources for homeland security.

Murray pointed out that the President rejected $2.5 billion in emergency appropriations that the full congress provided to him in August 2002.

She also observed Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge's recent suggestion that citizens should purchase duct tape and plastic to prepare for a terrorist attack.

Senator Murray's Remarks Follow:

"Two weeks ago I met with local officials in Mason County, a rural part of my state. I talked with Richard Knight, who is the Fire Chief for Mason County. Chief Knight, and thousands of others like him throughout the country go to work every day with the knowledge that they may be called upon to respond to a terrorist attack. They carry the weight of protecting our families from the faceless, but ever-present threat of terrorism.

When I asked Chief Knight what his biggest concern was, he told me he desperately needed new equipment - personal protective gear, haz-mat suits and other materials.

And he needed new communications tools to help coordinate the response with police and other emergency personnel in the event of an emergency.

I have talked with other constituents who have spent hours at the Canadian border trying to get back through Customs. I had one man tell me he spent 2 ½ hours in line trying to get home to his family because there aren't enough Customs Agents. These are some of the real needs that exist across the country.

Yet, when Congress gave the President the opportunity last year to help solve some of these problems, he rejected $2.5 billion in Homeland Security funding that could have helped our borders, our ports, and our communities with these critical security needs.

And this year, the new majority dramatically reduced funding for homeland security from what the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved last year.

They say we don't need the resources to protect our communities, because instead we should put the money into a $700 billion tax cut.

And instead of getting the resources to protect our communities, Americans are told to buy duct tape and canned goods.

I'd like to ask the 226,000 millionaires in this country what they would prefer: Another tax cut, or a nation that is ready to respond in case of another attack; Another tax cut, or someone to answer the phone when you call 911; Another tax cut, or the ability for police and firefighters to communicate with one another; Another tax cut, or enough border guards and customs agents to protect our borders.

Homeland security is a national issue and one that requires shared sacrifice. The federal government has a responsibility to provide the resources to make sure all of our citizens have the protection they need.

The federal government cannot leave homeland security to the states to simply fend for themselves.

Like nearly every other state in America, Washington state is facing a big budget shortfall. In response, our legislature is making some painful cuts - to health care, to education, to law enforcement. Our states cannot be asked to pick up the ball on homeland defense.

The needs are clear, and we know how to help.

At a time when the threat level is "high;" When the CIA Director is predicting terrorist attacks could come by the end of the week; When he says North Korea could fire a missile and hit the West Coast; When the FBI Director says there are several hundred al Quaeda operatives in this country; When anti-aircraft batteries have been placed around this city; And more combat patrols are flying overhead - the White House's answer is more duct tape. Duct tape is not enough to cover our homeland security needs.

I hope that President Bush and his allies will re-think their opposition to homeland security funding. I hope they will listen to the Richard Knights and thousands of other firefighters across this country. And I hope they will join us in doing what is needed to secure America's homeland.

We need more than platitudes and "do-it-yourself" kits to answer to critical security needs."