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SLUG: 2-280471 Congress / Terrorism (L)









INTRO: An unusually united American Congress is pushing ahead with a legislative response to the devastating terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. V-O-A's David Swan reports from Capitol Hill.

TEXT: By the end of the week, House and Senate leaders hope to grant the president's request for a 20-billion dollar anti-terrorism package. In a letter to the speaker of the house (Dennis Hastert), Mr. Bush says quick passage of the bill will send a powerful signal of unity to America and the world.

The lawmakers seem to agree. Despite previous concerns about deficit spending, no one is complaining about the cost of the proposal.

There is debate about a second piece of legislation, which would authorize the president to use force against the terrorists. Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott says precise language is needed to give Mr. Bush room to react to a murky, unprecedented situation.

/// LOTT ACT ///

We're talking about a response that could take many different forms. We need to make sure that we support the president's efforts to move after the proper investigations and clear determination as to who's involved and where they are that he be able an action without us having to have, you know, a week's debate.

/// END ACT ///

Some lawmakers want a formal declaration of war against the terrorists and perhaps their allies. But most say Congress should not go that far. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden says such declarations should apply only to nation-states, not terrorist groups.

/// BIDEN ACT ///

Therefore I think it's -- the inappropriate vehicle is a formal declaration of war. I think it is appropriate for us to jointly agree upon language that authorizes the use of force.

/// END ACT ///

While the multi-billion dollar spending bill may be wrapped up soon, the measure covering force may not pass until next week. Republican Senator John McCain predicts the terrorists will be known by the time the resolution would take effect.

/// MCCAIN ACT ///

I'm confident we will identify that enemy pretty soon because this operation was too big, too complex, there was too much money, there was too much of a trail left by the perpetrators of this outrage.

/// END ACT ///

Despite the disagreement over the resolution's exact words, lawmakers are unanimous in urging retaliation. There are few if any cracks in the wall of bipartisan support for President Bush as he grapples with the nation's worst crisis in decades. (Signed)


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