While the Bush administration has raised a record $40 million to pay for champagne, fireworks, and marching bands at its inaugural bash, it can't seem to find the money to help the District of Columbia cover the security costs. According to this morning's Washington Post, the Bush administration is planning to leave the cash-strapped city holding an 11.9 million dollar bill.
"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."
"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." But now, the Post reports, nearly $12 million will now have to be spent on such essentials as "reviewing stands."
Considering that a full 90 percent of the District's residents went to the polls on Nov. 2 in the hope that Bush would never see a second inauguration, it seems like poor form to make them pay so much for the festivities. Even members of the president's own party are taken aback: A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican who chairs the committee which oversees the District, 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?'"