House Approves Bush's Anti-Terrorism Plans

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President Bush's package of anti-terrorism powers wins approval in the House and moves toward passage in the Senate.

Despite vocal opposition from the Democratic minority, the Republican-run House approved landmark legislation setting standards for trying and interrogating suspected irregular foreign combatants.

After nearly two hours of debate, during which Democrats were not given a chance to amend an enormously complex and controversial bill, House Majority leader John Boehner cast the choice before his colleagues in starkly political terms.

"Will my Democrat friends work with Republicans to give the president the tools he needs to continue to stop terrorist attacks before they happen," Boehner said, "or will they vote to force him to fight the terrorists with one arm tied behind his back?"

Boehner and other GOP leaders argued that with the recent transfer of 14 suspected terrorists from secret prisons to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it was urgent that Congress provide rules under which those detainees could be brought to justice.

But California's Ellen Tauscher was one of many Democrats who said the bill, worked out between the White House and a group of Republican senators, was deeply flawed.

"Keep in mind, the president's original plan has not given us the ability to prosecute anyone, because they got it wrong," Tauscher said. "And because they blew it, and are about to blow it again, we're still not going to be able to bring the 9/11 perpetrators to justice."

In the end, only 34 Democrats voted with Republicans to pass the detainees bill; just 7 Republicans crossed the aisle to oppose it. The vote was 253-168.

The Senate is debating the same bill, but unlike in the House, there will be votes on five amendments to the legislation. If it's amended, it will mean the two chambers will have to reconcile their differences. That could mean a later departure for Congress for its elections recess.

The White House is pushing Congress to enact the legislation before members leave town this week for midterm campaigning.



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