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PHOENIX -- A House committee has approved a $5 million appropriation for new communications equipment in Cochise County that Republicans hope will increase border security.

House Bill 2188 sponsor Rep. Carl Seel of Phoenix says the new communications system is much needed.

The system would allow public safety personnel such as the sheriff's office and local police and firefighters to communicate via stronger signals, especially in remote areas.

It also would connect various agencies to one central system.

The bill originally called for $20 million, but was reduced to $5 million in part because of two multi-million-dollar private donations.

The House Committee on Government approved the bill unanimously after a tense discussion about border security.

It must be approved by two other committees before going to the House floor for a vote.

Associated Press,

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