Thursday, March 16, 2006


$19.1 billion in new money for hurricane recovery

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush gets much of what he requested in a $92 billion House measure for wars and hurricane cleanup, despite a newfound willingness by GOP leaders to challenge the president.

The weeks' long conflict over port security has overshadowed the bulk of the $91.8 billion spending measure, which provides $67.6 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $19.1 billion in new money for hurricane recovery along the Gulf Coast.

Bush had requested $92.2 billion, but the House trimmed some of the hurricane-relief money.

The House is expected to overwhelmingly approve the bill. Voting against it would invite election-year criticism for Republicans and Democrats alike that they were shortchanging U.S. troops at war or abandoning Gulf Coast hurricane victims.

Because of that, Republicans have little choice but to back the measure even though some fear the impact of the spending on soaring federal deficits in a congressional election year.

The bill has been particularly difficult to swallow for conservatives, who agree that troops and the Gulf Coast need the money but object to how the administration and Congress are providing the dollars without cutting the budget elsewhere.

"We have to put our fiscal house in order," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., implored colleagues on the House floor.

Conservatives were expected to try — and fail — to get the GOP leadership to split the measure in two so that the lawmakers can soften the impact on the deficit by cutting money from other programs to offset the hurricane-recovery money.

Lewis said both the troops and hurricane victims need the money urgently.

A large number of Democrats also are expected to vote in favor of the bill, even though many object to how the Bush administration is handling the Iraq war.

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