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Congress Responds to Tragic Events

On September 14, following terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Congress was moving toward approving a $40 billion emergency relief package (H.R. 2888). At press time, a House vote was interrupted for Members to attend a memorial service. The House and Senate are expected to unanimously approve the measure, which would be immediately signed into law by the President.

The measure allows the administration to spend the money on recovery efforts, terrorism investigations and intelligence, transportation security, repair efforts, and national security. Under the bill, $10 billion will be made available immediately. Another $10 billion will be made available after the President submits a request to the Appropriations Committees as to how the money will be spent. The remaining money may be spent only if it is allocated in future spending bills.

With the exception of action that occurred on September 10, most congressional activity was postponed for the remainder of the week. While the congressional schedule is still uncertain, the House may consider the FY2002 defense authorization bill (H.R. 2586) next week. Lawmakers also are discussing ways in which they can quickly complete work on the 13 annual appropriations bills. To date, the House has passed nine FY2002 spending bills, while the Senate has approved six. None of the bills have been sent to conference, and both chambers have yet to consider the two largest bills-the defense spending bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill.

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