The House has passed a $29.4-billion supplemental spending package that includes $5.5 billion to help New York City rebuild from the Sept. 11 attacks, plus $5.8 billion for homeland security programs and $15.8 billion for the military campaign in Afghanistan.
The bill also would restore at least $4.4 billion in federal highway aid for 2003 that President Bush had proposed to cut.
The measure was approved early on May 24 by a 280-138 vote. The day before, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $31-billion supplemental bill. Further action will take place after the Memorial Day recess.
Bush had requested $27 billion in supplemental spending but he supports the larger House measure. He said, "The House did a great service...for our men and women in uniform fighting the war against terror, for homeland security and for fiscal discipline." But in a signal that he feels the Senate committee version is too large, he said, "I expect the Senate to only spend on what is necessary to fight the war and for our immediate emergency needs. With our nation now at war, now is not the time for unnecessary spending on lower priority items."
The House-passed package includes $3.85 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, of which $850 million would go to reconfigure airports to handle new baggage-screening machines, $630 million to purchase the explosive-detection equipment and $75 million in grants for security measures at seaports.
In some cases, the construction and installation costs for the new airport scanning gear will be higher than the expense of buying the machines, says Todd Hauptli, senior vice president for legislative affairs with the American Association of Airport Executives and Airports Council International-North America. Hauptli says that Dallas Fort Worth airport estimates that for 40 explosives-detection machines, whose total cost is about $40 million, the installation and construction expense would be $193 million.
The House measure's homeland portion also would give Corps of Engineers $128 million and the Dept. of Energy $218 million for security upgrades.
New York's $5.5-billion allotment includes: $1.8 billion to rebuild Manhattan transit lines, $2.75 billion in disaster-relief assistance to be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $750 million in Community Development Block Grants.
The House legislation also would provide $201 million to the State Dept. to renovate and build embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Dushanbe, Tajikistan.