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[] Sen. Lieberman will Homeland Security Office zum Ministerium machen,

Lieberman drums up support for homeland defense bill

By Jason Miller,
GCN Staff 

The Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office and the National
Infrastructure Protection Center would be included under a new Homeland
Security Department proposed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). 

Lieberman, chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, plans to
introduce a bill that would create a department which would centralize
at the cabinet level the government?s many homeland security functions. 

The proposal also would bring the Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Customs
Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Domestic
Preparedness Office under the aegis of this department. 

Lieberman yesterday held a hearing to discuss the plan and found support
from witnesses, which included three Senators and three House members.
The office?s director would be presidentially appointed and confirmed by
the Senate. 

The bill also would create a White House Office of Combating Terrorism
to assess threats, develop and oversee a national terrorism strategy,
and determine how to best allocate funds to fight terrorism. 

The current structure of the Office of Homeland Security was set up to
be part of the White House and provide advice to the president. It has
no budget authority, and
director Tom Ridge recently has refused to testify publicly about the
office?s $37.7 billion request for fiscal 2003. 

?If statutory and budget authority are not conferred upon the director
of homeland security, the homeland defense of this nation always will be
less than what it should be,? Lieberman said. ?[The director] needs the
power to knock heads to overcome bureaucratic resistance, to eliminate
wasteful duplication of effort and to target precious resources.? 

Lieberman and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced a similar bill last
October that never made it out of the Governmental Affairs committee.

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