In response to Tuesday’s attacks on Washington, D.C., and New York City, Congress has been scurrying to approve measures to aid in disaster relief and allow action to be taken.
Late Thursday night Congress agreed to consider a $40 billion package giving relief to Virginia at the locations of the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The resolution, which passed unanimously Friday, authorizes an immediate $10 billion to aid in recovery and clean-up efforts in New York and Virginia. After a 15-day waiting period where Congress requires certification from President Bush, $10 billion more will be released. The last $20 billion can be released only after
Bush makes a specific request of Congress.
The unanimous vote put aside any partisan bickering and the debates that plagued Congress before Tuesday’s events.
“Congress acted quickly. We worked together, the White House and the Congress, to pass a significant supplemental,” Bush said in a press conference Sunday. “A lot of that money was dedicated to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as it should be.”
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri, said the resolution illustrated unity in Congress.
“We are working together here in the Congress in a completely nonpartisan way,” Gephardt said in a press conference. “We are shoulder to shoulder. We are in complete agreement that we will act together as one. There is no division between parties, between the Congress and the president.”
Late Friday the House passed a second resolution authorizing the use of force. The resolution passed with a 420 to 1 margin. The lone dissenter was U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California. The resolution passed the Senate early Saturday unanimously.
Lee said the resolution gave the president too much power that initially belongs to Congress.
“I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States,” she said in a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives. “Finally, we must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.”
Other representatives felt it was a necessary response to the act of war committed on the U.S.
In a statement on the floor of the House, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., expressed her support for the resolution.
” … By recognizing the authority our president already possesses under the War Power Resolution, we send a strong statement of national unity,” Baldwin said. “By approving this resolution today, we stand united, as one nation, stating clearly to the perpetrators of this crime, and those who would attack our country in the future, that we will protect our citizens and ensure the guilty are punished.”
The resolution authorizes Bush “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”