WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush's offer of nearly $21.4 billion to help New York recover from the Sept. 11 attacks drew praise from lawmakers who had previously criticized the administration for dragging its feet on aid.
``Thank you for staying with us,'' Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., told the president after his Thursday announcement. ``I don't write newspaper headlines _ which should be obvious to everyone _ but maybe tomorrow's headline would be, 'Bush to New York: Help is on the way.'''
Bush previously had promised $20 billion to the city to help it get back on its feet, and about $10.7 billion has been received so far. The new aid Bush proposed includes $2.75 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which could be used for cleanup and rebuilding costs, $1.8 billion for transit upgrades and $750 million in community development money, which could be used to reimburse utilities, said Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y.
The proposed new spending brought the federal package to nearly $21.4 billion, including a $5 billion ``Liberty Zone'' tax relief plan for lower Manhattan. The assistance is subject to congressional approval.
Bush stood with New York's mayor, the state's governor and its congressional delegation to announce the package.
``It is essential that New York City come back, and come back strong,'' he said.
Gov. George Pataki assured Bush that the state's elected officials ``will make sure every nickel is spent appropriately, and intelligently, to help the people of New York.''
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also said he is happy with Bush's response.
``They have just been fabulous. They haven't tried to haggle on the little details. ... Downtown (Manhattan) is now going to come back like gangbusters,'' Schumer said.
Bush made the $20 billion pledge in the days following the attacks and reiterated the promise on a recent visit to the city. But Clinton, Schumer and others have complained that money is not coming fast enough and questioned whether full Bush's promise would be kept.
White House budget director Mitchell Daniels further upset New York lawmakers last month when he likened the quest for aid to a ``little money-grubbing game.'' He later said he regretted making the comment, which he said was misconstrued.