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Congress Approves $40 Billion in Aid, "Use of Force" Provision

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against those who committed “acts of treacherous violence … against the United States and its citizens.”

The House followed suit late Friday night, approving the proposal 420-1. The resolution authorizes, “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) was the lone vote against the bill and warned her colleagues to “think through the implications of our action today so that it does not spiral out of control.”

The Senate also voted 96-0 in support of the aid package — double what the White House originally requested from Congress. The House approved the package later in the day by a vote of 422-0.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, today applauded his colleagues for what he called “a bipartisan effort” that will “help New York tremendously.”

“New York has two words to America: Thank you. You were there in our hour of need,” Schumer said. “This shot in the arm we have received from Washington is so important to us.”

Congress moved swiftly on the measure, working to make sure it passed before President Bush left to survey the damage in New York this afternoon.

“The whole world has changed,” Senate minority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said, “and we’re acting appropriately.”

Under an agreement between the White House and Congress, the bill provides an immediate $10 billion for a response to the attacks, increased transportation security and for repairs to those areas damaged by the attacks.

Another $10 billion would be made available 15 days after the Bush administration gives Congress a blueprint for its use. The remaining $20 billion would go to disaster relief and recovery efforts near the crash sites in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Top Congressional leaders met until late Thursday night to hammer out the agreement. Lawmakers and White House officials disagreed over how much control Congress would have over how the money was spent after it was approved.

White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels stressed to reporters that it was “established clearly” the additional $20 billion approved on top of the president’s original $20 billion request was earmarked for disaster relief efforts.

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