Thursday, November 15, 2001

Congressional Republicans handed the White House a pair of victories yesterday by beating back attempts for more emergency spending and blocking a Democratic economic-stimulus bill.
In the House, the Appropriations Committee last night defeated Democrats’ attempt to add $11 billion for New York City and $7.1 billion for homeland security to the defense-spending bill. President Bush said last week that he would veto any new emergency spending above the $40 billion that lawmakers already approved in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
In the Senate, Republicans blocked a Democratic economic-recovery plan that the White House argued would have devoted too much to new spending and not enough to tax relief to stimulate the economy.
The 51-47 Senate vote against the Democrats’ bill cleared the way for a bipartisan summit on a new plan between the White House and leaders in the House and Senate. Those talks could begin today, despite strong reservations by some House Republican leaders.
The House Appropriations Committee’s vote against the extra homeland-security spending was 34-31. New York’s two Republicans on the panel, Reps. James T. Walsh and John E. Sweeney, voted for the homeland-security funding.
The New Yorkers also failed, 33-31, in their attempt to add $11 billion in extra aid to the city, spending that the administration lobbied against strenuously.
Later last night, the panel approved on a voice vote the overall White House-backed plan for half of the $40 billion emergency package Congress passed immediately after the terrorist attacks.
Mr. Bush has said there is enough money available for New York for now $9.5 billion of the original $40 billion and that more could be spent later. New York Gov. George E. Pataki wants a total of $54 billion in federal aid for his state.
The panel also defeated by voice vote an amendment by Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, to add another $6.5 billion for the Pentagon.
Democrats argued that more money is needed for vaccines against bioterrorism, for food safety and border patrols. They said no money would be spent unless Mr. Bush agreed.
“If we know the vulnerabilities exist we ought to provide the money now,” said Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat.
But Chairman C.W. Bill Young, Florida Republican, said the administration has promised to request more money as needed. He urged the panel not to risk a veto.
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said the administration has not spent the entire $40 billion that Congress already approved.
“They can’t physically push the money out the door,” Mr. DeLay said. Vice President Richard B. Cheney lobbied lawmakers against more emergency spending. Republicans also offered enticements to keep their members in line, such as $15 million for a chemical-sensor program in the Metro subway system to satisfy Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican.
Lawmakers in both parties predicted that Congress will approve more emergency spending on homeland security by next spring.
The Senate’s action yesterday also sidetracked efforts by Democrats to add an extra $15 billion for homeland security. The Senate Democrats’ bill would have expanded benefits for the unemployed and subsidized health insurance for laid-off workers. Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and deputy minority leader, said those two items probably will be included in some form in whatever plan is finally approved.

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