Lawmakers OK $87.5 billion plan

Thursday, October 30, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Congressional negotiators agreed Wednesday on an $87.5 billion aid package for Iraq and Afghanistan that meets a White House demand that none of the money be provided as loans.

Despite rising criticism in Congress over the handling of the war, the package worked out by House-Senate negotiators largely resembles the proposal submitted by President Bush. The House and Senate are expected to act quickly to give the bill final approval before it goes to Bush for his signature.

But both Republicans and Democrats expressed frustration over what they described as the White House's disdainful treatment of Congress on Iraq.

"You bump up to a degree of arrogance over and over," said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va.

Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said "it is an act of considerable statesmanship for a lot of people in this place to continue to support what the president is trying to do in Iraq given the smidgen of information we're getting in return."

But Republicans, including Wolf, rejected a Democratic proposal that would have required Senate confirmation for Bush's civilian administrator in Iraq, the position held by L. Paul Bremer. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., rejected Democratic claims that this would make the administration more accountable.

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