- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

House-Senate negotiators agreed yesterday to a compromise $20 billion anti-terrorism package that would divert billions of dollars that President Bush wanted for defense to domestic security and communities hit by the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Bush rebuffed earlier demands by Democrats for a wider-ranging measure with a price tag that was at least $15 billion higher. But Democrats succeeded in cutting the $7.3 billion Mr. Bush wanted for the Pentagon to $3.5 billion, with resulting increases for expenditures at home.
The remaining $16.5 billion was divided roughly evenly between domestic-security programs and payments to areas directly affected by the attacks.
The anti-terror money was attached to a compromise $318 billion defense measure for this year. The House was planning to vote on the measure tomorrow and the Senate may do so as well.
Participants said White House officials to the end were trying to boost the measure's defense funds. But with Congress expected to complete this year's session at week's end, lawmakers decided they were finished bargaining.
"We're going home," said Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, top Democrat on the House Appropriations panel. "If the White House wants a defense bill, they'll sign it."
Even though the Bush administration did not get all the defense funds it wanted, the military money in it still will bring the fiscal 2002 Pentagon budget contained in several bills to $345 billion. That is about a 15 percent boost over last year's total. With the war and other costs, the Pentagon is expected to get even more money after Congress returns early next year.
Approval of the compromise would clear the major remaining hurdle before Congress finishes its must-pass spending legislation and adjourns for the year.
Congressional bargainers also prepared to approve a compromise measure providing $123.8 billion for health, education and labor programs.

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