‘Emergency’ Declared for Inauguration

11:45, 14 January 2009
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The declaration, though...

It is true, President Bush sounded alarms about Barack Obama during the campaign season. On Tuesday, Mr. Bush went one step further: He declared Mr. Obama’s inauguration an actual emergency, according to New York Times.

The declaration, though, was not a political statement about Republicans being run out of town. Rather, it was a bureaucratic move intended to provide additional federal money to help Washington cope with the huge crowds that are expected to turn out for the ceremony next Tuesday that will make Mr. Obama the nation’s first black president.

The government has set aside $15 million to help pay for security and medical personnel. But Mayor Adrian M. Fenty asked for more money, citing possible crowds of 1.5 million to 2 million and “the associated stresses that it would place on the city’s capabilities, particularly the medical community,” said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush granted the request as “a precaution,” Mr. Stanzel said; if Washington needs the money, it can apply for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The declaration will also allow federal public health workers to join in the public safety effort.

The president’s power to declare a state of emergency is typically used after natural disasters, although Mr. Stanzel said presidents had occasionally declared emergencies before an anticipated event. But never before, he said, has an advance declaration been used for a “non-disaster.”

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