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House orders terror spending 'freeze'

By MARK BENJAMIN

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- House lawmakers from both parties have called on the White House to immediately "freeze" plans to spend $10 billion in the war against terrorism, until President Bush better explains how it will be spent.

"As you know, public law ... requires submission of a plan for use of these funds by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young, D-Fla., and ranking member Doug Obey, D-Wis., wrote OMB Director Mitch Daniels late Thursday. "The Committee on Appropriations requested that you forward this plan consistent with the law. As of today, you have not complied with this statutory requirement."

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In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress quickly passed a $40 billion emergency spending bill to begin clean-up efforts and jump-start the war on terrorism. While Congress has said that Bush could spend the first $10 billion with no oversight from lawmakers, the White House would have to deliver a detailed plan to Congress on how to spend the next $10 billion of the total.

OMB spokeswoman Amy Call said the White House has spent around $7 billion and has sent Congress a plan on spending the second $10 billion appropriation -- House lawmakers simply do not believe that plan is sufficiently explicit.

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"The president is committed to responding to the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks. We are sure that the appropriators do not want to impede these priorities," Call said. "We look forward to providing them with what they need."

The letter comes as the White House and Congress are stuck in a struggle over how much the country will have to spend in the end to dig out from the attacks, fight the war on terrorism and kick-start the economy. President Bush has vowed to veto spending bills that exceed that $40 billion number.

Senate appropriators did not return calls seeking comment, but Call said the Senate does not share the same concerns.

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