President Bush has briefed Congressional leaders on military operations in Afghanistan. The President also urged Congressional Democrats to pass his economic stimulus package.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott says President Bush briefed them on U.S. and allied operations in Afghanistan, as well as efforts to boost domestic security. Senator Lott said the Senate should finish its work on a defense appropriations bill to show its support for troops on the frontline.
The Republican Senator also urged the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass the President's economic stimulus package, which includes tax cuts, rebates for low income families, and tax breaks for businesses to buy new equipment.
"Obviously the economy needs some boost," Senator Lott said. "We need to help those who are unemployed. We also need to do some things to stimulate growth and the creation of jobs for those who have lost their jobs. We can find a way to do that if we continue to work, but we want to make sure we do that in the right way. That we do not just wind up using money, the taxpayers dollars, money that does not stimulate growth in the economy."
Bush Administration officials say Congressional Democrats are trying to put too much spending in the bill. Senate Majority Leader Democrat Tom Daschle says the stimulus package must address what he called "the real concerns" of unemployed workers.
"We recognize that there are a lot of people out there who need help and we want to see if we can find a bipartisan way to provide it," Senator Daschle said. "There are procedural and substantive disagreements that we still have to work through, but we committed once more to try and find that way, and I am hopeful we can."
House Minority Leader Democrat Dick Gephardt says the president's economic stimulus package must broaden provisions to help unemployed workers continue their health insurance.
"Part of stimulating the economy is taking care of the folks who lost their jobs with unemployment compensation and health insurance. It is very important to remember that a lot of folks who have never been out of a job are out of a job today," Congressman Gephardt said. "Their kids are exposed with no health insurance, and we have got to have that in the economic package."
The president's plan has already passed the Republican-controlled House. Mr. Bush says the legislation is crucial to helping the economy recover from a recession made worse by the terrorist attacks of September 11.