Tags: Congress | Moves | Money | Toward | War

Congress Moves on Money, Toward War

Thursday, 13 September 2001 12:00 AM

Congress has also begun work on a separate piece of legislation - akin to a declaration of war - that might give the president additional authority, if needed, to wage a protracted campaign against terrorism.

"No one knows what it will ultimately be," House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said about the funding bill. "I think everyone agrees it will be a lot of money."

Gephardt said Congress would likely separately pass "a piece of legislation that authorizes the president to take appropriate action against the perpetrators."

Bipartisan groups of lawmakers huddled in Capitol rooms said they started with a draft number of $20 billion pay for emergency activities, clean up and rebuild, and wage war if necessary - but will likely spend a lot more. "Everyone in there said it is not the amount of money [that is in dispute]. Twenty billion is not going to cover what we need," one aide said outside one meeting.

Speaking to reporters outside the same meeting, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, agreed that the spending could go well above any figure that's being circulated because the actual needs of the attack sites and the cost of the yet-undecided military operations have not been determined.

"I am amazed to find that the dust has not settled in New York," he said. "We need that to happen right away, so we know what they need."

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, also said that he thought the cost of the recovery and retaliation act would exceed the current prediction.

"Both [political parties] have indicated that we might eventually need more money than is mentioned in the resolution under consideration," he said.

Lawmakers have put the spending bill on the front burner, and are pledging to stay in Washington this weekend to complete it if necessary.

They also moved to paper over clear disagreements - often along party lines - about whether Congress should maintain some control over how that money is spent, and also over what authority the president should receive in the separate resolution of war.

"All that is involved is making sure that money is provided so that people who understand the issues in the Congress have the opportunity to be meaningfully involved in how this money is spent long-term. We're not talking about second-guessing the president over the next few months, but the people at the various agencies were not elected by the American people to make these decisions about how to spend money," Obey said.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., shares Obey's view, telling reporters that the Congress needs to be involved in making the long-range decisions about how to fight and respond to the terrorist threats, although the president does deserve the same type of authority given during the 1990 Persian Gulf War.

"I think it's appropriate to give the president that same kind of authority," he said. "But I would agree we need to add language to ensure that Congress does not have to wait on the sidelines."

In the House, both the Republican Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., and the ranking member, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., are working to ensure that those who receive emergency aid from the government will not experience tax hardship as a result. Both men said they expect the House to enact a waiver for such victims.

Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., is expected to introduce a declaration of war on Thursday but Warner said he opposed such a measure.

"I strongly oppose a formal declaration of war," he said. "I don't think we should dignify these terrorists with such a response."

Warner said he expected a similar resolution to one that authorized U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Congress has also begun work on a separate piece of legislation - akin to a declaration of war - that might give the president additional authority, if needed, to wage a protracted campaign against terrorism. No one knows what it will ultimately be, House Minority Leader...
Congress,Moves,Money,,Toward,War
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2001-00-13
Thursday, 13 September 2001 12:00 AM
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