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House Votes to Aid Pentagon, N.Y. in $28.9-Billion Measure

July 24, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to clear $28.9 billion in emergency funding for the Pentagon, U.S. homeland security efforts and New York's recovery after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Senate is expected to follow the 397-32 outcome today by passing the bill and sending it to President Bush, who first requested it over four months ago, to be signed into law. Lawmakers last week cut billions in spending from the bill in response to White House complaints that it had grown too large.

"I hope we can get it to the president's desk as soon as possible so that our soldiers, our diplomats, our law enforcement and intelligence officers have the resources they need to protect our country," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. "Bill" Young, a Florida Republican.

The core elements of the 2002 supplemental spending bill enjoy wide support. But it was slowed by bitter clashes between the White House, which wanted to limit the cost in the face of mounting U.S. budget woes, and lawmakers determined to fund their own priorities ahead of the November elections.

That led the Pentagon to warn that it would run out of money for vital operations if the measure was not approved by the end of the month. The Transportation Department also warned that efforts to overhaul passenger and baggage screening at airports could be derailed if the deadlock continued.

"It is a reasonable package and I think the most important thing we can say about it is we simply need to get on with it," said Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, which controls federal spending.

The final bill would provide $14.5 billion for continuing U.S. operations in Afghanistan and other military needs, as well as $6.7 billion for efforts to bolster U.S. domestic defenses after Sept. 11.

An additional $5.5 billion would go to help New York recover from the destruction of the trade center.

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