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Congress approves resolution authorizing force

The Senate, led by minority leader Trent Lott and majority leader Tom Daschle, approved the use of force resolution, 98-0.
The Senate, led by minority leader Trent Lott and majority leader Tom Daschle, approved the use of force resolution, 98-0.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution Friday authorizing President Bush to use force against those responsible for Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the same day it unanimously approved a $40 billion emergency spending package.

The House overwhelmingly passed the use-of-force resolution late Friday night by a 420-1 margin. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, registered the lone dissenting vote, saying she believed it gave too much of Congress' power to the president and because she was reluctant to approve force that could worsen the situation.

"I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States," she said in a statement. "Finally, we must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target." The Senate approved the measure by a 98-0 margin earlier in the day.

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On Friday morning, the House, following the Senate's lead, approved a $40 billion bill to fund rescue, security and law enforcement efforts in the wake of Tuesday's attacks.

Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the money would be carved out of the $40 billion spending package approved earlier. But another House GOP leader, Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Oklahoma, said those details are not yet finalized.

'All necessary and appropriate force'

The use-of-force resolution represented the latest step in the United States' movement towards military action in response to Tuesday's attacks.

The measure authorizes the president "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 September 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."

Bush already has the power to authorize limited military force as commander in chief, but the White House wanted congressional approval in this case because the retaliation efforts will be drawn out and multifaceted.

In a statement, Bush praised the passage of the measures.

"I am gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message -- our people are together, and we will prevail," he said.

Legal experts say Bush could act without Congress  

Congressional leaders from both parties have been working with White House officials over the past two days to come up with appropriate wording for the resolution giving Bush the authority to use force.

Some were concerned about giving him too much leeway in approving future operations. Concerns were allayed, apparently, by linking operations to those nations, organizations or persons connected in some way with Tuesday's attacks.

Congressional leaders from both parties have been working with White House officials over the past two days to come up with appropriate wording for the resolution giving Bush the authority to use force.

"These are different times, and we must act decisively. The American people expect it, and they will accept nothing less," Lott said before the Senate vote on the funding measure. "The world has changed, and we are acting appropriately."

This is the first congressional action giving a president the use of force since the Senate, after lengthy debate, narrowly passed a 1991 resolution on the Persian Gulf War.

Deal struck Friday morning

White House negotiators and senior leaders from the House and Senate struck the deal to approve the spending measure early Friday morning.

According to a senior administration official, the $40 billion aid package -- twice as large as the White House requested -- will be distributed on the following time schedule and with these congressional requirements:

-- $10 billion released immediately to aid recovery and cleanup efforts in New York and Virginia.

-- $10 billion to be released after a 15-day waiting period where Congress requires written certification from Bush.

-- $20 billion that can be obligated only after the president makes a specific request of Congress.

There were some snags, as the House considered the measure Thursday night over who controls how the funds would be spent -- the White House or Congress. Republican congressional aides said the White House wanted "unfettered" authority over the money, but lawmakers said that would violate their constitutional power of the purse.

According to appropriations committee aides on both sides of the aisle, there was an agreement for $20 billion of the funds to go toward domestic humanitarian assistance and recovery efforts -- primarily for, but not specified for, New York.

The rest of the money will go toward intelligence, law enforcement agencies, improved security for transportation systems and other expenses.

"We are working together here in the Congress in a completely nonpartisan way," said House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri.

'War Bonds' considered

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Montana, introduced legislation Friday to direct the Department of the Treasury to issue War Bonds for the first time since World War II.

War Bonds allow citizens to, in effect, give loans to the U.S. government, purchasing promissory notes to be paid at war's end. The proposal introduced Friday would give Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill the authority to determine the rate of interest and other terms of the bonds.

"By investing in a U.S. War Bond, patriotic citizens will have an opportunity to make a direct contribution to the war against the scourge of terrorism and provide the much-needed resources for the effort to rescue the injured, rebuild the broken, and retaliate against the enemy," McConnell said in a statement.

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