House approves compromise anti-terrorism, defense measure as Congress nears completion of budget work for year
Thursday, December 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House overwhelmingly approved a compromise $20 billion anti-terrorism package on Thursday as weeks of battling between President Bush and lawmakers over the government's fiscal response to terrorism drew to a close.
By a 408-6 vote, the House approved the package and a mammoth $318 billion defense bill it was attached to. The anti-terror money is for the Pentagon, domestic security, and New York and other areas staggered by the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Senate was likely to grant final approval to the measure later in the day.
With lawmakers exhausted from a near all-night session debating economic stimulus legislation, House debate on the anti-terrorism measure was brief.
But underlining the oft-bitter partisan battling over the package, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., praised the compromise as one in which ``rationality prevailed over stubbornness.'' That seemed to be a reference to the Bush administration's insistence on limiting the measure's price tag.
The Senate, by 90-7, gave final approval to a $123 billion measure financing education, health and labor programs, and neared completion of a $15.4 billion foreign aid bill. The House approved the education measure Wednesday by 393-30 and signed off on the foreign aid bill by 357-66.
The three bills are the last of the 13 annual spending bills for fiscal 2002, which began Oct. 1. After finishing them and other lingering measures, Congress was expected to leave the capital for the year to end an unusually lengthy session prolonged by the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
The defense bill, along with military funds in other legislation, would bring Pentagon spending to $345 billion this year, 15 percent over 2001.
Besides leasing 100 Boeing 767s for conversion to Air Force refueling tankers, the Defense Department could lease four smaller 737s, to be available to administration officials and lawmakers. Congressional aides said the 737s were sought by Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
The bill has a 5 percent pay raise for military personnel and $7.8 billion for missile defense, $500 million below Bush's request.
The anti-terrorism package provides $3.5 billion for the Pentagon, less than half what Bush wanted. It also has $8.3 billion for preventing bioterrorism attacks, aviation security and other domestic defense programs, plus $8.2 billion for New York and other areas directly affected by the attacks _ both exceeding what Bush sought.
The education, labor and health bill provides $11 billion more than last year's and exceeds Bush's request by $7 billion. The added money helped lawmakers reduce their squabbling after the attacks.
The bill would provide $48.9 billion for schools, 16 percent more than last year and 10 percent over Bush's initial request. It closely followed the legislation revamping federal education programs that Congress sent Bush this week.
Substantial increases are included for research by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for programs to retrain some jobless workers and for Pell grants for low-income college students.
The legislation also has almost $1 billion in home-district projects for health care facilities, local job training, education and health care programs and museum exhibits.
Scores of hospitals and health care centers would get money for improvements totaling $312 million, though the earlier Senate bill had just $10 million and the House approved nothing.
The foreign aid bill is $400 million higher than last year and $200 million over Bush's request.
The president's $731 million plan for combating illegal drugs from South America's Andean nations was cut to $660 million. Russia and other former Soviet states would get $784 million, and there is $229 million to finance debt relief for poor countries.
The bill would provide $34 million to the U.N. Fund for Population Activities, a $3.5 million reduction demanded by conservatives who said the program helps finance abortions in China. Supporters of the program deny that.
Following Bush policy, that money, and $446.5 million for family planning programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, cannot go to groups that help provide abortions overseas.