- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Congressional leaders have added $100 million to an emergency appropriations bill for a classified contingency plan so Congress could meet elsewhere if the Capitol were attacked.
The plan has arisen from the September 11 terrorist attacks and the mailing of anthrax-laced envelopes to congressional offices in October. Both episodes created considerable confusion and breakdowns in communication, with Congress shutting down for several days after the anthrax attack.
John Feehery, spokesman for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, said Mr. Hastert asked that the money be included in a $27.3 billion supplemental appropriations bill requested by President Bush.
"It's important for Congress to plan for the worst-case scenario," Mr. Feehery said.
Mr. Feehery said he could not discuss the details of the contingency plan because the plan is classified. Other congressional sources said they had been instructed not to talk about the matter because it is "black money," or classified funding.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate support the plan, according to aides.
The House Appropriations Committee has increased the overall spending level of the emergency measure to $29.8 billion and will resume consideration of the bill this week.
When a plane piloted by terrorists crashed into the Pentagon on September 11 and authorities believed a second plane was headed for the Capitol, the evacuation of congressional leaders was disjointed. Mr. Hastert and other top leaders were taken to an undisclosed location, but some lawmakers complained later they had not been in constant communication with one another or with the other branches of government.
With those problems in mind, Reps. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat, and Christopher Cox, California Republican, will hold a bipartisan meeting Thursday on the "constitutional and statutory problems the House would encounter in the event of a major catastrophe," according to a statement from Mr. Frost.
The federal government until 1994 had designated the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia as an emergency government retreat in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States.
In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved construction of a 112,000-square-foot bunker in the mountain to be impregnable to a nuclear strike. The Cold War bunker is now a popular tourist attraction.
The proposed contingency fund comes on the heels of the Bush administration detailing its line of succession plans last week for various government agencies. The lists were required by the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
For instance, at the Justice Department, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft would be succeeded by deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, Associate Attorney General Jay B. Stephens, then the U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia, Utah and the Western District of Texas.


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