Saturday, November 17, 2001


Democrats demanding extra spending for domestic security forced the House yesterday to delay voting on a $20 billion anti-terrorism package until after Thanksgiving.

The chamber’s Republican leaders had hoped to spend Congress’ weeklong holiday break celebrating passage of the anti-terror measure. Democrats plan to use the week to pressure Republican lawmakers to support adding billions of dollars to the package.

The decision by Republican leaders to set aside the bill came after Democrats threatened procedural delays that could have forced debate to drag into next week. Most lawmakers were eager to head home for the holiday.

The postponement came hours after New York Republican lawmakers reached an agreement with White House officials on an aid package to help their city rebuild from terrorist attacks.

That deal put an end to a confrontation that was pitting Republican lawmakers against President Bush, who had threatened to veto any spending that exceeded $20 billion, with House Republican leaders backing him.

New York lawmakers had been demanding an additional $9.7 billion on top of the $20 billion to help New York, Virginia and other states that suffered as a result of the September 11 attacks.

Instead, New York Republicans, led by Rep. James T. Walsh, agreed to accept about $1.5 billion more of the $20 billion than they otherwise would have received, Mr. Walsh said.

“We were able to get the money New York needs right now,” he said.

White House officials have also promised the New Yorkers some additional funds for jobless workers, to be provided in separate legislation, Mr. Walsh said.

The $20 billion aid package contains money for the Pentagon, more border patrol agents, computers for the FBI, and hiring sky marshals. There are also funds for food safety, the purchase of smallpox vaccines and other bioterrorism programs, aid to local governments, unemployment assistance and other programs.

A $15 billion anti-terrorism package has gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Democrats attached the plan to their economic-stimulus legislation, which Republicans have all but killed using procedural delays.

Congress enacted $40 billion in anti-terrorism aid three days after terrorists’ hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside, killing about 5,000 people.

Mr. Bush controls half the money, while Congress must approve legislation detailing how the remaining $20 billion will be spent. The president and Republican leaders have said that amount is sufficient for now, and that any spending beyond that amount should wait until next year.

An effort to approve the additional $9.7 billion failed Wednesday night in the House Appropriations Committee, 33-31. Mr. Walsh and Rep. John E. Sweeney of New York were the only Republicans to support the extra funds. Several Republicans from Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey voted against it, though their states stood to gain some of the funds.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide