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Bush says he'll deliver $20 billion to NY

"I'm here to tell you the federal help is coming," Bush told the New York crowd.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- President Bush Wednesday vowed to deliver on his pledge to provide $20 billion in aid to New York to recover from the September 11 terrorist attacks, a sum that would be separate from that set aside to compensate victims' families.

"When I say 20 [billion], I mean 20 [billion]," Bush said during an afternoon visit to the city. "I'm confident we can recover together. It's going to take federal and state effort. I'm here to tell you the federal help is coming."

Bush's comments followed a comment earlier this week by White House budget director Mitchell Daniels that money designated for victims would be counted against the $20 billion Bush promised for the city's recovery.

Daniels' comments drew immediate rebukes from New York officials, who said they contradicted what the administration had said in earlier conversations.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said Daniels' statement verged "on a breach of faith."

The president, visiting with city police, fire and rescue personnel to promote the security and national defense segments of his proposed budget, praised city workers for the "new standard of courage and honor" they set during the terrorist attacks.

"On the worst day this city has ever known, we saw some of the finest people New York has ever produced," Bush said. "We mourn every loss, we remember every life, but they will not have died in vain."

'Whatever it takes'

Control center
Bush visited the city's emergency control center.  

Bush noted that his new budget nearly doubles spending for homeland security, including money for equipment and training for state and local police, firefighters and rescue workers who would be first on the scene in the event of another terrorist attack.

The president told the rescue and law enforcement personnel in the crowd that the additional spending would be designed "to make sure that you have whatever it takes to prepare and respond." But he also said spending on homeland security could have long-term benefits beyond preventing or responding to attacks.

"As a result of focusing on first responders, neighborhoods will be more safe in the long run. As a result of focusing on bioterrorism, perhaps we'll develop vaccines and medicines and cures for other diseases," he said. "The short run, we're focusing on attacks. The long run, the country will be better off."

On the economic front, Bush made a pitch for legislation designating Lower Manhattan as a "liberty zone" as part of an economic stimulus bill, which he still hopes to see passed despite a Senate setback.

Economic stimulus legislation was pulled from the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon when it became clear that neither Republican nor Democratic versions had sufficient support.

The designation would provide tax incentives for businesses that invest in the area, site of the terrorist attacks.

Helping fellow Republicans

Bush's trip to New York also had a political component.

On Wednesday night, the president donned his "fund-raiser-in-chief" cap for the second time this year to help bring in "close to" $2 million for New York Gov. George Pataki's re-election campaign, a Pataki spokeswoman told CNN.

Bush first spoke at a Pataki fund-raiser at the private home of newly elected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

About 100 people attended the Bloomberg event, for which individuals were asked to contribute $15,000, and couples $25,000.

Later, the president traveled to a Manhattan hotel for a $1,500-a-person event for Pataki. About 750 people attended.

This was the second time this year that Bush has hit the fund-raising circuit for fellow Republicans. His first event of the year was a Washington reception for his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for re-election.




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