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Homeland Security Emergency Spending Bill Focuses on Defense, Intelligence - 2002-07-24

The U.S. Senate (by a 92-7 vote) passed an emergency counter-terrorism spending bill and sent it to President Bush for his signature. The House passed the measure late Tuesday.

Most of the $29 billion bill will fund defense and intelligence activities for the remainder of the budget year, which ends September 30.

The measure, a compromise between House and Senate versions of the bill, includes funds for homeland security efforts, New York's recovery after the September 11 attacks, and aviation and port security.

Senator Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said: "This legislation is a real victory for the American people. It speeds protections that are so desperately needed at our borders and ports, vital training for police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. Through this legislation, Congress is making investments today that will help to protect Americans from terrorist attacks for years to come."

It is the second emergency funding bill passed by Congress in response to the September 11 attacks. Lawmakers sent President Bush a $40 billion supplemental bill just weeks after the attacks.

The latest measure addresses a number of foreign policy matters. One provision would allow Colombia to use U.S. aid in its fight against left-wing rebel groups and right-wing paramilitary groups that have been designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department. Current law restricts U.S. assistance to the battle against drug trafficking.

Another provision would restrict U.S. cooperation with the new International Criminal Court amid U.S. concern that the permanent war crimes tribunal would be an unchecked power able to prosecute U.S. troops.

The bill includes foreign aid for a number of countries. There is $134 million in disaster assistance for Afghanistan, $200 million for Israel for what it calls 'anti-terrorism' efforts, and $50 million in humanitarian aid for the Palestinians.

The bill offers $55 million in military aid for the Philippines, and $1 million to help develop independent news organizations in Pakistan.

In addition, the measure includes $200 million for the global fight against AIDS.