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Congress passes $40 billion to fight terrorism

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - White House officials and congressional leaders agreed early Friday to final details of a $40 billion package to combat terrorism and recover from attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The figure was double what President Bush requested.

Determined to show a united front, lawmakers also seemed to be near agreement on a separate measure that would back the use of "necessary and appropriate force" by President Bush against the people responsible for Tuesday's attacks. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said the House could consider that bill as early as Friday.

Hastert said the two sides agreed to drop earlier language opposed by some lawmakers that would also have approved use of force by Bush to "deter and pre-empt any related future acts of terrorism or aggressions against the United States." Opponents said that would have gone too far in eliminating Congress' role in future incidents.

Leaders hope to push the spending measure through the House as early as today, with the Senate to follow. A Saturday session of Congress was looking increasingly likely.

At a Capitol meeting that ran past midnight Thursday, top lawmakers and White House officials agreed that half the package would be available virtually immediately, and half after details are spelled out in subsequent legislation. Administration officials had hoped Congress would approve the measure in time for Bush to tout it when he visits New York on Friday.

Even so, approval of such a vast sum just days after Tuesday's calamitous events would be lightning speed for a Congress that usually takes weeks or months to approve money for anything.

"We are shoulder to shoulder. We are in complete agreement that we will act together as one," said House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

Earlier, Hastert had said that Bush agreed to sign the $40 billion measure after meeting at the White House with New York lawmakers.

"There is a unanimous understanding that whatever we do this week is a very minimal down payment to what will be required and what we will do in the days and weeks ahead," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

The spending agreement was worked out late in the afternoon, minutes before the Capital was evacuated for about a half hour after bomb-sniffing dogs detected a suspicious odor in a Senate office.

Lawmakers from New York- where the brunt of the casualties and damage occurred when the World Trade Center was obliterated- sought a commitment Thursday from Bush for $20 billion to aid the state's recovery.

Instead, the bill's final version would require that at least half the $40 billion aid victims and their families, and pay for recovery efforts. That money would most likely be spent in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, where Tuesday's fourth hijacked airliner crashed.

In a day marked by several bipartisan meetings- unusual in themselves- Democratic and Republic leaders traveled together across the Potomac River to view rescue and recovery efforts at the Pentagon.

In broadly worded language, the $40 billion would go to attack victims; costs by the federal and local governments for the rescue, cleanup and rebuilding efforts; and improved security for transportation systems.

It could also be used "to counter, investigate or prosecute domestic or international terrorism" and for "supporting national security"- which could give Bush wide leeway to use funds to strike back at terrorists and their supporters.

Both parties also seemed eager to approve separate legislation endorsing a presidential use of force against those responsible for the attacks.

"It is always wiser to demonstrate national unity" by showing Congress supports such action, said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del.

Participants said completion of that bill could slip to next week, complicated by the age-old jealously between the two branches of government over the power to wage war.

In 1964, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing President Johnson "to take all necessary measures" to protect U.S. forces and prevent aggression. Johnson and subsequent presidents used that resolution to wage the Vietnam War, to the subsequent regret of many lawmakers.

The Constitution gives the president, as a commander in chief, authority to wage war while leaving Congress the power to declare war.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This associated press article appeared in The Recorder on September 14, 2001. It reports on the rapid and large scale reaction of the United States Congress to the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by a terrorist cell on September 11, 2001. The spending bill was designed so that part of the $40 billion dollar package could be used to create a broad security program including surveillance, intelligence gathering, and detention of unlawful enemy combatants. Through this Congress hoped to keep the United States safe from further terrorist attacks. The author observes that "approval of such a vast sum just days after Tuesday's calamitous events would be lightening speed for a Congress that usually takes weeks or months to approve money for anything." The article goes on to state that "both [Republican and Democratic] parties seemed eager to approve separate legislation endorsing a presidential use of force against those responsible for the attacks." This grant of discretionary power to the President was ultimately used to authorize the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. The journalist expresses concern for this rush to expand the war powers of the President. The author recalls the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which "Johnson and subsequent presidents used - to wage the Vietnam War, to the subsequent regret of many lawmakers."

 

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"Congress passes $40 billion to fight terrorism" article from The Recorder newspaper

publisher   The Recorder [Press]
date   Sep 14, 2001
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   8.75"
height   6.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L06.036


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See Also...

"Senate Bill Would Limit U.S. Combat" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"Showdown Looms On War Powers Issue" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"Protecting Freedom" article from The Recorder newspaper


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