- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2001

President Bush scored a victory yesterday in his bid to limit emergency spending when a key House Republican abandoned efforts for more national defense money.
Rep. Jerry Lewis, the California Republican in charge of defense appropriations, told colleagues yesterday he was backing down from his request for extra billions for national security in light of Mr. Bush's veto threat.
"The president is the commander in chief and I have to support him," Mr. Lewis said at a closed meeting of House Republicans, according to another congressman attending.
But Mr. Bush still faces a veto showdown with lawmakers of both parties, especially New Yorkers, over an extra $10 billion to $20 billion for homeland security. A package promoted by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd and Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has support from Republicans in both chambers.
"Let him veto it," Mr. Byrd said of the president. "If he wants to veto more money for anthrax antibiotics, if he wants to veto more money for smallpox vaccine, for more border control, for beefing up state and local health departments, protecting our bridges and trains, let him veto it."
New York's congressional delegation is hard at work on requests for more money, believing the state has been shortchanged in the division of the $40 billion Congress approved last month in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Two New York Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. John E. Sweeney and James T. Walsh, are working with Democratic colleagues on a package for New York state that they will present at the committee's meeting Tuesday.
The panel will decide how to spend $20 billion of the $40 billion in emergency aid that Congress and the White House agreed on last month. Mr. Bush infuriated some lawmakers on Tuesday by vowing to veto any spending above the $40 billion, saying the government does not need more money for the time being.
But House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young, Florida Republican, said yesterday he could not guarantee that his committee members would hold to that spending limit.
"That remains to be seen," Mr. Young said. "One of the things that really hasn't been settled here is the New York issue. I definitely expect an amendment to be offered to go above the $20 billion for New York."
Mr. Young said he gave the New York delegation more time to prepare its request for higher spending, even though he will vote against their proposals. He told House Republicans yesterday that the president's spending limit would be "a tough vote to hold."
Mr. Sweeney said he will meet today with other New York members "to map out a strategy."
"I'm a little confused," Mr. Sweeney said of the president's veto threat.
"What we're proposing here is essentially contingencies," he said.
In the Senate, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said he has not changed his mind that Congress might need to spend more than the $40 billion.
But Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said lawmakers should take the president's veto threat at face value.
"Does anybody believe that President George W. Bush and [Defense] Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld would be opposed to more money for defense if they needed it?" Mr. Lott said. "We're not going to just, you know, allow the president to be shoved around at this critical point when he is … fighting so many important battles for the American people, at home and abroad."


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