Washington The Senate defied a rare presidential veto threat Thursday and passed a $109 billion emergency spending bill for Iraq and hurricane-ravaged states that's also loaded with money for farmers, fishermen and shipbuilders.
Twenty-one Republicans voted against the bill, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to protest the additional spending. President Bush wants the special interest provisions removed from the bill so it matches his $94.5 billion request.
The 77-21 vote was an exercise in legislative winks and nudges, as many senators who voted for the extra spending have pledged to sustain Bush's veto. Senators and members of the House of Representatives now will head into negotiations to reconcile the Senate bill with a version the House passed, which provided only $92 billion.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., declared the Senate bill "dead on arrival." White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated Bush's veto threat. House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the House would defeat any bill that "spends $1 more than what the president asked for. Period."
The Senate bill includes more than $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearly $30 billion for hurricane relief in Gulf Coast states. It also includes $2.6 billion for pandemic flu preparations and nearly $2 billion to enhance border security.
But the measure also contains billions of dollars for farmers in drought-stricken areas and to help the agriculture industry deal with the rising costs of fuel. Lawmakers also inserted spending provisions, called earmarks, for special projects from California to New England.
The new funds would bring total spending on war-related costs since the September 2001 attacks to roughly $430 billion, according to calculations by the Congressional Research Service.
Appropriations for last year's hurricanes would now total about $96 billion.