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Lawmakers seek a cash advance for conventions

Cities need federal funds now to prepare for security for GOP, Democrats, they say.

November 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

DENVER — A stalemate in Washington is holding up money for security at next year's Republican and Democratic conventions and could force Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver to front tens of millions of dollars, lawmakers warned Monday.

Led by Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Betty McCollum of Minnesota, the congressional delegations from both states will ask Congress to appropriate money by year's end.

Security is expected to cost about $50 million at each site, paid for by the federal government. The host cities are expected to raise another $50 million each to stage the conventions.

The congresswomen are concerned neither city can afford to pay security costs as the bills come due before the conventions in August.

"Denver and Minneapolis are relatively small cities," DeGette said Monday. "We really need to have at least some of the money upfront to defray these security costs so that we can sign these security contracts."

Unlike larger cities that have hosted the conventions, such as New York and Boston, these cities cannot afford to put up the money during the year and be reimbursed later, DeGette said. So the concern is over the timing of the payouts, not whether they will occur.

Time is limited, with Congress taking a two-week break for Thanksgiving and President Bush threatening to veto an appropriations bill that would give each city an initial payment of $25 million.

Bill Harper, McCollum's chief of staff, said only two other bills may be available this year to provide the money.

"The number of appropriation vehicles are starting to look limited," he said.

"I think Denver shares the same concerns as us," Harper said.

"St. Paul is a small city. It can't afford to front the money," he said.

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