Both parties say they will act fast on financing war

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) - Leaders of both parties say they will try to quickly approve funds for waging war against Iraq, while acknowledging it will be difficult to prevent money from being added to the $74.7 billion bill President Bush sent Congress.

House and Senate hearings on the measure were likely this week as both chambers try meeting the president's deadline of sending him a completed package by April 11. The measure is dominated by $62.6 billion for the Pentagon and classified activities, but also has money for aid to U.S. allies, for the FBI and for state and local governments to bolster safety against terrorism.

''Business as usual on Capitol Hill can't go on during this time of war,'' Bush said Tuesday in a speech at the Pentagon, warning that the bill ''should not be viewed as an opportunity to add spending that is unrelated, unwise and unnecessary. Every dollar we spend must serve the interest of our nation.''

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While saying the troops must quickly get all the funds they need, Democrats complained that the bill was full of money the administration could spend with only scant control by Congress. Of the Pentagon's money, $59.9 billion would be in a fund that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld could spend with limited input by lawmakers.