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House Clears Way for $29B in Hurricane Aid

December 22, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House cleared the way Thursday for a defense spending bill that funnels $29 billion in new hurricane aid to the Gulf Coast and $50 billion more for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The action came on the heels of a move to give one month more life to the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism powers under the Patriot Act.

The House passed the two bills in a year-end scramble to finish its work, complicated by standoffs with Democrats and disagreements among Republicans.

The Patriot Act extension keeps the anti-terrorism laws in place until Feb. 3. The Senate was scheduled to reconvene to consider the legislation so it can become law.

The House put the act on its short leash after House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., objected to a longer, six-month extension.

President Bush and Republican leaders had insisted the law be permanently extended before its scheduled expiration on Dec. 31. They were stymied by a Senate filibuster, led by critics who claimed the legislation failed to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.

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