- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

The Senate approved an anti-terrorism bill early yesterday after hoisting its cost beyond $31.5 billion in a challenge to a White House that has threatened to veto the package as too expensive.
The Democratic-controlled Senate's 71-22 vote, which ended after midnight, sets up a showdown with President Bush, who sent Congress a $27.1 billion proposal in March.
Ahead are negotiations with the Republican-led House, which adopted a $29 billion version of the measure two weeks ago.
With November's elections for congressional control looming, those talks will give both sides their latest chance to turn their differences over the war on terror to their political advantage and perhaps give Mr. Bush the chance to cast his first veto as president.
"You can tell the people at the local level that their safety doesn't matter," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, the bill's lead author, told Republicans who tried unsuccessfully to pluck some items out of the legislation.
Sens. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, and John McCain, Arizona Republican, lost several attempts to cut projects they said did not belong in anti-terror legislation.
The Senate voted 65-31 to retain language providing $2.5 million for mapping Hawaiian coral reefs. And by 66-30, it kept $2 million in to help the Smithsonian Institution plan a storage facility for its animal specimens, currently stored near the Capitol and preserved in 730,000 gallons of flammable alcohol.
"Almost anything can be deemed to be an emergency. Where do you draw the line?" Mr. Gramm asked.
In a final flurry, tempers seemed near the breaking point as the Senate accepted about 40 amendments but dropped scores of others despite angry protests.
"You can smile if you like, but there's nothing to smile about," a furious Sen. Pete Domenici, New Mexico Republican, said to Mr. McCain after he blocked a Domenici amendment that would have helped small aircraft manufacturers.
During the debate:
Senators voted 79-14 for a proposal by Sens. Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, and Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, to double to $200 million the bill's funds for fighting AIDS overseas. The two had earlier wanted $500 million, but trimmed their plan after Mr. Frist negotiated with the White House and others. A Democratic effort to boost the total to $500 million was rejected 49-46.
The Senate voted 75-19 to forbid U.S. cooperation with the international war-crimes tribunal, a permanent court that starts operations next month and has been opposed by the president. The House has approved a nearly identical ban.
Mr. Gramm blocked inclusion of a deal reached among some a bipartisan group of senators that would have set a cap on next year's spending and set procedures for enforcing that limit. The figure which excludes benefits such as Social Security was $768 billion, $9 billion more than Mr. Bush proposed and $29 billion higher than is to be spent this year. Many lawmakers want such an agreement because partisan fights have blocked passage of a congressional budget this year that would limit spending. But Mr. Gramm and other conservatives want to hold out for a lower figure.
Republicans had thought about forcing a delay in final passage of the overall bill until next week.
But that plan was abandoned after Mr. Bush Thursday night announced his proposal to merge federal anti-terror efforts into a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security and declared that America was waging "a titanic struggle against terror."

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