Senate Continues Debate Today on Defense Bill, Postal Funding

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Senate Republicans and Democrats are expected to continue negotiations today over a $318 billion Defense Appropriations bill that includes funding for the U.S. Postal Service.

Late yesterday afternoon, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, introduced an amendment that would redistribute the $20 billion already set aside for security, rebuilding and other measures. This money is to get these groups through the first quarter of 2002, Stevens said, after which President Bush is expected to request more money. Under the proposal, $575 million would be allocated to the USPS.

"The postal service very much needs a great deal of money," Stevens said.

In back-to-back 50-48 roll calls last night, Democrats twice fell short of the 60 votes needed to waive budget rules and permit an additional $15 billion in spending: $7.5 billion for homeland defense and $7.5 billion more to help New York and other areas recover from the Sept. 11 attacks. That proposal, introduced by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, would allocate $875 million to the USPS.

Byrd spent much of the afternoon yesterday discussing his proposal and criticized Bush for only allotting $175 million to the postal service.

"It's almost laughable if it wasn't so serious," Byrd said.

The president has said that he will veto any bill that appropriates more money for homeland defense. A letter to congressional leaders yesterday renewed that threat, saying that through November, only $6 billion of the $40 billion has been spent.

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