- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement yesterday on a $28.9 billion emergency-spending measure that will keep the military from running out of money as it pursues the war against terrorism.

Also, the Senate passed the military-construction spending bill for fiscal 2003, while the House passed two other fiscal 2003 spending bills the Treasury and postal operations measure and the legislative-branch spending bill.

President Bush demanded quick action on the emergency-spending bill, which he first submitted in March, after military leaders recently said they were borrowing money from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 in order to operate.

"This is not a perfect package, but sooner or later you have to move on, and this is one of those times," said Rep. David R. Obey from Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill is likely to be approved early next week. In addition to the $14.5 billion allocated for defense which is $522 million more than the president's initial request the bill provides $5.5 billion in assistance to New York, completing the president's promise to spend $20 billion to rebuild the city after the September 11 attacks; $6.7 billion for domestic security expenses; $1 billion to cover a shortfall in college Pell grants; and $2.1 billion for embassy security and foreign aid, including $200 million for Israel to combat terrorism and $50 million for humanitarian assistance to Palestinians with the provision the money not go to the Palestinian Authority.

The bill also tackled several thorny issues:

•It provides $205 million to fund Amtrak.

•It remained silent on funding the U.N. Population Fund, disappointing some lawmakers who had hoped to force Mr. Bush to spend the $34 million allocated to the fund during the current fiscal year.

•It enshrines the American Service Members Protections Act, which prohibits U.S. involvement in the International Criminal Court.

Also yesterday, the Senate passed a $10.6 billion military-construction spending bill, 96-3, with one Democrat and two Republicans dissenting. It will be the first of the 2003 spending bills to go to a House-Senate conference, because the House has already passed its own version.

The House passed a $2.7 billion bill to fund the committees and staff that aid the House, 365-49, with 183 Republicans, 181 Democrats and 1 independent voting for it, and 32 Republicans, 16 Democrats and one independent voting against it. By tradition, the House and Senate each write their own spending levels and agree to accept the other's amount.

The only flare-up was a failed amendment by Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, to force the Joint Committee on Taxation to release a report on how much money the federal government loses in tax revenue owing to corporations moving overseas.

Mr. Moran called those corporations "parasites" and said the committee is delaying the report.

But Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the taxation committee, called the amendment a "pure partisan, political" issue. Mr. Thomas said the taxation committee had to go back and rewrite the report because of a change in the law.

The $18.5 billion Treasury and Postal Service bill, which funds executive agencies, passed 224-188, with 194 Republicans, 29 Democrats and 1 independent voting for it, and 19 Republicans, 168 Democrats and 1 independent voting against it.


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