WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Democratic leader promised a vigorous fight Thursday over domestic security, despite Republican claims to have enough votes to block Democrats from showering $35 billion on anti-terrorism programs.
The Senate planned to begin debating the Democratic package on Thursday in a showdown with growing political overtones. President Bush, who has repeatedly threatened a veto, wants the measure limited to $20 billion, arguing that is enough money until early next year.
"We're not going to go away," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., told reporters, saying Democrats might force a series of politically painful votes for Republicans on bioterrorism and other parts of the anti-terror package.
"This is going to be a fight that we want to continue to be taking to the Senate floor for as long as it takes to get the job done," Daschle said.
Democrats say their proposal -- attached to this year's $318 billion defense bill -- is needed immediately to protect a vulnerable public amid terrorism alerts the administration has issued three times since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Democratic plan contains money for developing vaccines, bolstering border and airport security, hiring food inspectors, financing the war in Afghanistan and helping New York and other areas recover from the hijacked airliner crashes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With Bush touting sky-high support in public opinion polls, the Democratic proposal underlines party thinking that he may be vulnerable on domestic policy.
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