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14 September 2001

Congress Votes $40,000 Million to Fight Terrorism, Aid Recovery

(Second measure authorizing military use awaits House action) (740)
By Ralph Dannheisser
Washington File Congressional Correspondent
Washington - Acting swiftly and unanimously, the U.S. Congress has
voted $40,000 million dollars in emergency funds for recovery and
counter-terrorism efforts following the deadly attacks that demolished
the World Trade Center towers in New York and severely damaged the
Pentagon near Washington September 11.
The Senate approved the measure early September 14 by a 96-0 vote, and
the House of Representatives followed suit by a vote of 422-0.
At least half of the money is earmarked for humanitarian assistance
and recovery efforts, mainly in New York City. House action came even
as President Bush was on his way to New York to get a firsthand look
at the devastation in lower Manhattan, after attending special
noontime prayer services at Washington's National Cathedral.
A second, related measure, authorizing the president to use "all
necessary and appropriate force" in a military fight against
terrorism, also won unanimous passage in the Senate, 98-0. House
action on that measure was expected to follow shortly, but probably
not until September 15.
The unanimous vote - a reflection of a united U.S. response to the
terrorist attacks that killed thousands and disrupted financial and
transportation systems nationwide -- stood in sharp contrast to the
result the last time the Senate considered military action. On that
occasion, just before the Persian Gulf War, approval came narrowly,
51-47.
The delay in House action on the force authorization measure was
prompted by concerns of some lawmakers who want to give Bush broad
powers to carry out a military response, but worry that overly broad
language could give him open-ended authority that would impinge on the
constitutional role of Congress.
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said the swift approval
of emergency funding represented "a bipartisan effort that stretched
from one end of the country to the other," and added, "It's going to
help New York tremendously."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young, a Florida
Republican, said the funding package - twice the amount that Bush had
asked Congress to provide - "allows the federal government to use
every tool in its arsenal to help America recover from this tragedy
and to locate and prosecute the cowards who committed this crime."
And Senate Minority (Republican) Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi
declared, "The whole world has changed and we're acting
appropriately."
The first $10,000 million will be made available immediately upon the
president's signature of the bill -- for emergency rescue and
rebuilding efforts; enhanced security at airports, other
transportation facilities, and public buildings; and investigation and
prosecution of terrorism.
Another $10,000 million will be released as soon as the administration
provides Congress with a plan for using it, while the final $20,000
million is to follow after the new fiscal year starts October 1.
The second Senate-passed resolution, awaiting House action, authorizes
the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against
those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned,
authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on
September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons...."
Such action is intended, in the words of the resolution, "to prevent
any future acts of international terrorism against the United States
by such nations, organizations or persons."
The resolution, as passed, modified language originally sought by the
president, giving him "preemptive" authority to use force to prevent
future acts of terror. Many senators criticized that version as unduly
vague and open-ended.
Legislative concerns harked back to the Vietnam War era of the 1960s,
when Congress gave President Johnson extraordinary powers by passing
the so-called Gulf of Tonkin resolution. That action deprived Congress
of effective oversight as the war escalated.
The resolution the Senate passed September 14 is "broad enough for the
president to have the authority to do all that he needs to do to deal
with this terrorist attack" while also "tight enough that the
constitutional requirements and limitations are protected," Lott said.
Commenting on the vote, Senate Majority (Democratic) Leader Tom
Daschle of South Dakota declared, "Once again the Senate has pulled
together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans,
responding to a crisis in a way that Americans expect."
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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