The House yesterday, in a voice vote, approved the measure to allow the Treasury Department to market the lower interest-bearing bonds as a way for Americans to act on their patriotism in the wake of the attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon that killed more than 5,000 people.
"At this time of national unity these war bonds serve as an ideal vehicle for Americans to support efforts to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice," said Rep. John Sweeney, a New York Republican who sponsored the legislation.
The Senate passed a similar measure as part of a larger spending bill and would have to vote again on it as a separate bill before it goes to President Bush for his signature.
While lawmakers liked the idea, the Treasury Department has been lukewarm, saying it already has the ability to finance the recovery and battle against terrorism.
"The Treasury Department certainly appreciates the patriotic intent and sentiment behind the legislation and we are reviewing the proposals at this time," said a spokeswoman for the Treasury.
The proposal to issue war bonds has also drawn criticism from those who argue that the bonds could divert money that might otherwise boost consumer spending and a limping economy.
Speaking in advance of the House vote, Brian Roseboro, the U.S. Treasury assistant secretary for financial markets, said it would be better for Americans to contribute money to charities or spend money to help the economy.
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"The intent behind the war bonds is quite understandable. Americans are looking to help in as many ways as possible with regard to the war on terrorism. However, in terms of finding a solution...I would say that we would first recommend Americans continue to contribute to charities, as they have been doing," said Roseboro, speaking to reporters at a Bond Market Association conference in New York.
Roseboro said it would also help if the "American consumer regains confidence, goes out and helps stimulate the economy."
Treasury officials have not rushed to embrace what would be the first war bonds since World War II, though Roseboro said it would take any congressional bill "seriously."
Roseboro said that if Americans would still like to do something more, "then the potential investment in war bonds is an alternative."
Revenue from war bonds could be used for any government spending and not specifically for the mlitary effort.
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