WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers heeded President Bush's demands that they restrain the price tag of a compromise anti-terrorism bill by limiting its cost to $28.9 billion, a White House spokesman said Friday.
The remarks by spokesman Ari Fleischer seemed to buttress the expectations of lawmakers and congressional aides that Bush will sign the measure after Congress approves it, perhaps next week. House-Senate bargainers shook hands Thursday on the agreement, four months after the president initially proposed the package.
While cautioning that White House officials had yet to examine the measure's details, Fleischer told reporters, "With that caveat the president is encouraged. He asked Congress to hold the line on spending and Congress held the line on spending."
About half the measure, for the remaining 10 weeks of the federal fiscal year, is for the Pentagon. The rest is for domestic security efforts like aviation safety; rebuilding assistance for New York; foreign aid; and assorted programs ranging from aid to Amtrak to Pell grants for low-income students.
Lawmakers forced the price tag down from earlier levels exceeding $30 billion after veto threats from Bush's budget chief, Mitchell Daniels. His efforts left even Republican legislators annoyed.
"We need to see the fine print, but so far we're pleased with the level of the bill and the progress Congress has made," said White House budget office spokeswoman Amy Call.
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