WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush on Friday warned Congress against sparking a "turf battle" over his plan to create a Department of Homeland Security, and said he was sending top adviser Tom Ridge to Capitol Hill to promote the terrorist-fighting plan.
"We've got a lot of work to do to get this department implemented. There's going to be a lot of turf protection in the Congress. But I'm convinced that, by working together, that we can do what's right for America," Bush said after a meeting with nearly a dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
The morning after outlining his agency-shuffling plan in a televised address, Bush convened a strategy session in the White House Cabinet Room to survey the opinions of lawmakers. They already had drafted legislation doing essentially what the president has proposed: gathering all the domestic security functions, currently spread among more than 100 federal entities, into a single Cabinet agency.
Because 88 congressional committees and subcommittees have a piece of the domestic-security puzzle, power struggles are inevitable.
"There is nothing wrong with a good turf battle fight and one way to win that argument is calling upon the good services of the affected members of the House and the Senate," Bush said, surveying the room. "That's what this meeting is all about. It's about the beginning of winning the turf battle."
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, co-sponsor of domestic security legislation, agreed with Bush that passage won't be easy.
"We're not kidding ourselves," he said after the White House meeting. "There's going to be some opposition and it probably will be bureaucratic turf protection. There will be a lot of arguments about why we ought not to do this."
Bush said nothing he has seen suggests anyone could have prevented the horrors of last September.
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