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House Set To Take Up War Supplemental Thursday

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) outlined a busy schedule for the House on Wednesday, taking up a long-delayed war supplemental on Thursday and considering the controversial electronic surveillance legislation on Friday, "if it's ready to go."

Hoyer said he’s been locked in a "three corner discussion" with House and Senate leaders and the White House on the path forward for the supplemental appropriations bill to provide roughly $165 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Hoyer said the House version of the supplemental will include an extension of unemployment benefits, an expansion of veteran's education benefits and a tax increase on wealthy couples to cover its $52 billion cost.

Additionally, he said, the bill would include funding to help victims of recent flooding in the Midwest.
Still, the Senate fate of all three major initiatives remains unclear. "It may be the case," Hoyer said, when asked if the bill would continue to "ping-pong" between the two chambers.

"We are pretty close to a resolution," he said.

Democratic leaders have targeted July 4th as a deadline to complete work on a bill that President Bush would sign.

On the controversial issue of an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Hoyer repeated his long-held claim that negotiators are "very close" to a deal. He said the newest compromise would “accommodate the protection of civil liberties” but did not offer any specifics.

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