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$20 Billion Emergency Package Approved by House - 2001-11-29

The Republican-led House of Representatives has passed a $20 billion emergency package to respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The action came in a vote approving an annual defense spending bill. The measure now goes to the Senate.

The House approved the emergency package and the $318 billion defense spending bill by a 406 to 20 vote.

The $20 billion emergency aid was passed after Republicans rejected Democrats' efforts to add billions more to the package.

Democrats wanted an extra $10 billion to help New York recover from the destruction of the World Trade Center, $7.2 billion to increase homeland security and $6.5 billion for the military.

But the Republican majority backed a procedural rule to block votes on Democratic amendments to increase spending.

The $20 billion package is the last installment of an overall $40 billion in emergency aid authorized by Congress just days after the September 11 attacks.

Some $21 billion is to go to the military effort, with the remaining $19 billion to help New York rebuild and to fight terrorism.

Democrats accused President Bush of reneging on a pledge to immediately send New York $20 billion dollars to recover from the attacks.

Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York represents the district where the World Trade Center once stood.

"Unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience vote for this bill today because of the supplemental funding provision included in the bill that actually cuts funding that was intended to help New York recover from the terrorist attacks on September 11," he said. " The bill before the House today breaks the solemn pledge made to the people of the state who suffered the brunt of the attack on our nation."

But Republicans - including the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Bill Young - say New York will get more money when further needs are assessed.

"What I am suggesting is that any amendment that goes above the $20 billion, we cannot support today, but we will move immediately for a supplemental with the President's support and the speaker's support when the time comes and we do identify a need that must be taken care of now," he said.

Democrats argued New York needs more money now to encourage businesses to reopen and help rebuild the stricken financial center.

But President Bush has threatened to veto any spending over the $40 billion already authorized.

The overall defense spending bill has $20 billion more than last year's total and matches Mr. Bush's request. It cuts $441 million from the President's $8.3 billion plan for a national missile defense.