Archive for Friday, September 14, 2001

Congressional leaders agree on $40 billion package

September 14, 2001


— White House officials and congressional leaders agreed early today 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 near agreement on a measure that would back the use of "necessary and appropriate force" by 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 today.

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

Leaders hoped 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.

During 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 were spelled out in subsequent legislation.

Administration officials had hoped Congress would approve the measure in time for Bush to tout it today when he visits New York.

Approval of such a vast sum just days after Tuesday's calamitous events would be lightning speed for a Congress that usually takes months to approve most appropriations.

"We are shoulder to shoulder. We are in complete agreement that we will act together as one," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.

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

"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 Capitol was evacuated for about a half hour after bomb-sniffing dogs detected a suspicious odor in a Senate office.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.