Congress clears Defense bill that includes emergency funding

Congress overwhelmingly adopted the compromise version of the fiscal 2002 defense appropriations measure on Thursday. The House passed the bill first on a 408-6 vote and the Senate later cleared the bill for President Bush's signature on a 94-2 vote. The bill, H.R. 3338, would provide $317.4 billion overall for Defense Department programs. It also contains an extra $20 billion in emergency funds--the second installment of appropriations toward responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The emergency money includes $3.5 billion for defense, $8.3 billion for homeland security and $8.3 billion for recovery in areas impacted by the attacks. Under the legislation, the Justice Department would receive $25 million in fiscal 2002 for activities authorized in the anti-terrorism law Bush signed in October. Among other things, the law allows "roving" wiretaps on the phones used by suspected terrorists and increases law enforcement's ability to intercept suspects' e-mail and telephone communications. The FBI would get $200 million to modernize its computer system by this summer instead of having to wait until 2004, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., said on the House floor Thursday. "Right now, the FBI has a large number of computers that can't even send pictures of potential terrorists to other terminals. ... This would fix that," Obey said. The Defense Department would receive $20 million for the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center authorized under the anti-terrorism law. The money would be used to simulate the Internet, the country's telecommunications system and its physical infrastructure to determine how systems interact and how weaknesses can be minimized. The bill also would provide $236.9 million in state and local law enforcement assistance, including $81.7 million for northern Virginia, $81.7 million for New Jersey and $56.5 million for Maryland--three areas hit hard by the terrorist attacks. The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration would receive $8.25 million for emergency grants to respond to the attacks. And the National Institute of Standards and Technology would get $400,000 for emergency expenses, and for scientific and technical research and services. The package also would provide $43.9 million to the District of Columbia's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Some of the money would go toward a project on making landline and wireless telephone systems interoperable. And $1 million would be used to review the city's technology and to integrate the communications systems of city police, fire and emergency personnel with the systems of regional and federal law enforcement agencies. The homeland-security portion of the bill includes: about $41.5 million for the Environmental Protection Agency's science and technology initiatives to combat terrorism; $300,000 to the National Science Foundation for terrorism-related research activities; and $15.9 million to the Internal Revenue Service to fix information systems affected by the terrorist attacks. The measure also calls for the establishment of a Web site and database to describe projects aimed at commemorating victims of the attacks.
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