Security funds for national conventions tied up in stalemate
Denver — (AP) - A stalemate in Washington is holding up money for security during next year's GOP 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 before the year runs out.
Convention security is expected to cost about $50 million in both sites, 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, DeGette said the cities cannot afford to put up the money during the year and be reimbursed later on, DeGette said. So the concern is over the timing of the payout -- not if it will come eventually come.
Time is tight, with Congress taking a two-week break for Thanksgiving and President Bush threatening to veto the an appropriations bill that would give each cities an $25 million.
Bill Harper, McCollum's chief of staff, said only two other bills may be available this year that could be used 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."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)