Dems back down from fight with Bush over anti-terror spending

Friday, December 7, 2001

Associated Press WriterWASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats backed down Friday from a veto fight with President Bush over their $35 billion anti-terrorism plan and began preparing a smaller package more to his liking.

The turnabout came as the Senate prepared for a showdown vote on the Democrats' plan for responding to the Sept. 11 attacks. Republicans seemed certain to prevail, needing only 41 votes on the procedural motion -- a margin they had Thursday evening on two similar roll calls.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., told reporters that after that vote, Democrats would offer an alternative $20 billion package, the size Bush has demanded. Aides said it would provide more money for New York and fighting bioterrorism than the president has proposed.

Bush had insisted he would veto the $318 billion defense bill, to which the Democrats' anti-terror package was attached, if it exceeded the spending he wanted.

The development was a setback for Daschle and Democrats who believed they might succeed by attracting support from Republicans leery of voting against efforts to enhance domestic security.

They also thought the battle would help them paint Bush as not paying enough attention to going after terrorism at home.

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