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US Congress Votes Emergency Spending Package - 2001-09-14

The U.S. Congress has voted to give President Bush the money to respond to this week's terrorist attacks in the United States. The Senate approved the measure, 96 to zero, and the House followed a few hours later, 422 to zero. The Senate also voted to give the president the power to respond to the attacks with force - a proposal the House is expected to approve Saturday.

Acting swiftly and with none of its usual public bickering, the Senate passed a $40 billion emergency spending package. The money will go to help the many victims of the assault, repair the damage, and strengthen counter-terrorist capabilities.

Senators also approved a separate measure authorizing the president to use all necessary force against those responsible for the strikes. Majority Leader Tom Daschle says the Senate has done its part to help the nation recover.

"The Senate has passed an extraordinary response to the disaster, providing the president with ability now to move forward in healing this nation, providing him with the resources to do so and with the moral support that is evidenced in a unanimous vote," said Mr. Daschle.

The spending bill was originally set at $20 billion but was doubled at the request of the New York congressional delegation.

Both of the state's senators, who are usually among the president's sharpest critics, praised his reaction to the crisis. Senator Hillary Clinton says Mr. Bush did not hesitate when he was asked for a second $20 billion installment. "He immediately agreed," she said. "And it meant a great deal to us and to the people of New York. So we're very grateful today."

The resolution authorizing force was somewhat more controversial. Some asked why it was needed at all, while others feared it might go too far.

Both Mr. Daschle and Republican Leader Trent Lott say that ideally, they would have preferred other language. However, they say it was crucial to move quickly and not get bogged down in debate. Mr. Lott adds, he is satisfied with the final product. "I believe that it's broad enough for the president to have the authority to do all that he needs to do to deal with this terrorist attack and threat," he went on to say. "I also think that it is tight enough that the constitutional requirements and limitations are protected."

The House of Representatives is expected to complete this uncommon show of unity by adding its assent to the resolution no later than Saturday.