- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

The House passed its emergency military spending bill early yesterday morning, with Republican leaders using legislative tactics to include a provision that would let the nation's debt limit be increased.
Half of the $29.4 billion approved goes to the military's war on terrorism, while a quarter goes to domestic security expenses. The bill also includes the final $5.5 billion installment of President Bush's pledge to spend $20 billion rebuilding New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which will take up its own $31 billion version after the Memorial Day recess.
Republicans included in the House bill a provision that says the government won't default on its debt obligations. That language gives House and Senate negotiators a chance to increase the government's debt capacity when they meet to work out differences in conference committee. House Democrats said including the placeholder language allows Republicans to avoid voting specifically on a debt increase a vote that could be used against them in campaigns.
But Republicans may not have ducked the issue for long.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said yesterday that he doesn't want to pass a combined spending and debt-ceiling bill. He said he plans to pass a stand-alone debt-ceiling bill and send it back to the House.
"I just think it would be very difficult to do a debt ceiling, as controversial as it is, in a conference without having taken one vote on it," Mr. Daschle said.
The House passed its bill 2:50 a.m. yesterday, and then went home for the week-long Memorial Day recess. The bill passed 280-138, with 84 Democrats and 196 Republicans voting for it, and 116 Democrats, 20 Republicans and both of the chamber's independents voting against it.
But the real work was done about 35 minutes before the final vote when the Republican majority, on a party-line vote, passed rules of debate that ended two days of stalling by Democrats.


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