- The United States Senate overwhelmingly passed a $15.6
billion bill for foreign aid on Wednesday, including $2.76 billion in assistance
for Israel, more than any other country. Egypt was second, and will receive
a total of $1.955 billion.
- U.S.lawmakers said the move would give the Bush administration
a tool to help fight terrorism through diplomacy.
- At the request of Secretary of State Colin Powell, senators
dropped an amendment to require the White House to report on the Palestine
Liberation Organization's compliance with its commitment to renounce terrorism
and violence. Powell said that requirement could have hampered efforts
to forge an international alliance against terrorism.
- The bill, which had stalled for several weeks in a partisan
dispute over judicial nominations, cleared the Democratic-led Senate 96-2
without significant amendments.
- It was written well before the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington
and New York, but language was added to bar aid to countries that harbor
or help finance individuals or organizations responsible for the hijacked
airline strikes that killed some 5,000 people.
- The Senate also approved spending $2 million for education
programs for Afghan women.
- House approves $317.5 billion in defense spending The
House Appropriations Committee also unanimously approved a $317.5 billion
defense spending bill Wednesday, but that figure could go up by $20 billion
or more for the war on terrorism before the full House votes on it.
- Committee leaders said that before the House votes on
the measure, the committee probably will include Bush's request to spend
$20 billion, part of the $40 billion Congress approved in the wake of the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
- The bill's $7.9 billion for missile defense - $400 million
less than Bush sought but $2.7 billion more than was spent last year -
is wrapped into a new counterterrorism and weapons of mass destruction
program. That program also would:
- -Give the defense secretary and CIA director a rapid-response
capability for the war on terrorism and defense against such threats as
chemical and biological attack.
- -Provide $894 million, $155 million more than Bush sought,
to speed fielding of the latest Patriot theater missile defense system,
known for its use against Scuds during the Gulf war a decade ago