WASHINGTON – House and Senate appropriations committees on Tuesday gave President Bush everything he asked for and more in his proposed $74.7 billion war budget, but it won't come without strings attached.
The nearly $80 billion package passed the House panel 59-0. Initially, it didn't include a dime for the nation's financially struggling airlines. But an amendment providing $3.2 billion for the air carriers passed. It included a provision to make sure airline CEOs don't get raises this year.
House Republicans on Tuesday said they want to give the president his entire package, paying for the war with Iraq and anti-terrorism costs, but they wouldn't give him quite as much flexibility as he wanted in deciding how to spend the funds.
The bill is "a message to our troops that we believe in them, that we support them and that we encourage them," said House committee chairman Bill Young, R-Fla.
Bush had asked Congress to put the bill on his desk by April 11.
Although the Senate proposal is expected to look similar to Bush's, Democrats in that chamber have their own ideas about what the package should look like, and want to add additional money for homeland security and the airlines.
Senate lawmakers agree they would also like to add $2 billion to cover wartime insurance risks for the airline industry and additional security measures.
The House plan pretty much lives up to the broad expectations Bush had.
It would provide $62.5 billion of the $62.6 billion he proposed for the Pentagon and classified activities; $200 million more than the $7.8 billion he requested for foreign aid; and $69 million less than the nearly $4.3 billion he proposed for tightening security on the home front.
But the House measure would greatly restrict Bush's proposal for large pools of money that the administration could spend without approval from Congress. That reflects a long-standing desire by lawmakers of both parties to protect Congress' power to control spending.
Of the $62.6 billion that Bush included in his request for the Pentagon, he proposed giving Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad discretion over $59.9 billion. For example, $53.4 billion could be used by Rumsfeld "for military operations in Iraq and the global war on terrorism."
Instead, the House package would give Bush wide flexibility over $27.7 billion of the money. But he would have to notify Congress at least seven days before spending it. The House bill would distribute the rest to specific budget accounts, such as $10.5 billion for Army operations and maintenance.
The House committee wrote in a report with the bill that Bush's plan for broader leeway "creates an unwieldy, financial behemoth that frustrates both congressional and departmental oversight."
The House package also breaks up other, smaller funds Bush had proposed.
A broad $1.5 billion counterterrorism fund he wanted the Department of Homeland Security to oversee is instead to be divided among the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies in DHS.
And a $500 million Justice Department counterterrorism fund has been reduced to $50 million with the remainder going mostly to the FBI.
Bush's request to distribute $2 billion to state and local police and emergency agencies would be increased to $2.2 billion. Democrats who have been pushing for more federal aid to local officials for homeland security initiatives were planning to offer amendments boosting that spending.
As Bush proposed, the House bill would provide $1 billion for Israel, $1 billion for Turkey, at least $700 million for Jordan, and funds for other allies. An extra $250 million was added for food aid.
The vote came after the committee rejected efforts to increase domestic security funds and slash aid to Turkey.
Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., had wanted to put Turkey's aid into domestic security programs, saying that Turkey's refusal to allow coalition forces to launch its attacks from there "cost American and allied blood and time and money."
Opponents, however, said now was no time to lash out at Turkey, which is normally a steadfast U.S. ally.
By a straight party-line, 35-28 vote, the House panel defeated an amendment by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to add $2.5 billion for tightened security at dams, more aid to state and local emergency agencies, and other domestic safety efforts. The bill already contains $4.2 billion for domestic security initiatives.
The Senate committee approved a nearly $80 billion price tag that also put restrictions on spending. It did not include all the spending that had been proposed by Senate Democrats.
Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he and his colleagues had planned to offer a series of amendments to the emergency supplemental that call for $4.8 billion in additional homeland security funding.
"The war has two fronts and we need to apply the same vigilance and commitment that we're showing abroad to our anti-terrorism efforts here at home," Daschle said Tuesday.
"We can't hang on to Sept. 10 priorities in a post-Sept. 11 world. Regrettably, the administration's supplemental budget seems to do just that," he added.
But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he only supported assistance to the airline industry, adding that he thinks the president has adequately funded homeland security.
Fox News' Julie Asher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.