Ridge says legislation needed to create Cabinet-level office

Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge told House Republicans Wednesday that the White House will require legislation to create a Cabinet- level office to combat terrorism - but not now. After a meeting with House Republicans, Ridge told reporters: "I assured them that I would need statutory authority . But I also asked them for a little time." Ridge's latest request for more time comes as House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young, R-Alaska, prepares to introduce legislation on the issue. Two Democrats, Senate Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Rep. Jane Harman of California, support similar bills. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said he is satisfied that Ridge has the authority to bring various departments together to protect domestic security. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., said, "I've always felt he probably needed legal authority...[but] I'm willing to wait for him to say what he needs."
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