Cash For Air Security And NYC Recovery

american u.s. flag congress capitol building hill AP

House and Senate negotiators Thursday reached agreement on a much-delayed $28.9 billion emergency counter-terrorism spending bill to free up urgently needed cash for the Pentagon and airport security efforts.

After accepting spending cuts of more than $1.5 billion to satisfy White House objections and avert a threatened veto, the full House and Senate will likely pass the final bill next week and send it to President Bush to be signed into law, lawmakers said.

"We need to get this down to the White House just as soon as we can," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young, a Florida Republican.

The core elements of the package -- money for the military, U.S. homeland security efforts and New York's recovery after the Sept. 11 attacks -- have enjoyed wide support since Mr. Bush initially requested it in March.

But it has been slowed by bitter clashes between the White House, which wants to limit its cost in the face of mounting U.S. budget woes, and lawmakers determined to fund their own spending priorities ahead of November elections.

That led the Pentagon to warn recently it would run out of money for vital operations if the measure was not approved by the end of the month. The Transportation Department said this week that efforts to overhaul passenger and baggage screening at airports could also be derailed if the deadlock continued.

The 2002 supplemental spending bill would provide $14.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other military needs, and $6.7 billion for ongoing efforts to bolster U.S. homeland defenses in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

A further $5.5 billion would go to help New York recover from the destruction of the World Trade Center.

With an eye on the elections, lawmakers also included many items not directly related to the aftermath of Sept. 11.

They include: $1 billion for college grants, $400 million for improving U.S. voting systems, $200 million to fight global AIDS, $205 million to shore up the struggling Amtrak passenger rail service, $31 million to boost enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission and a $250 million package of humanitarian aid to Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Joel Roberts

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