White House urges emergency funds for military
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congress has dragged its feet on approving supplemental appropriations for the military and the new transportation agency charged with increasing aviation security, the White House said Wednesday.
"The Department of Defense will be unable to meet the last two military pay dates in September, breaking our commitment to the men in women in uniform, unless action is taken," spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters at a daily briefing.
"Funding for our troops in the field is running out. Our men and women who are fighting for democracy and freedom in Afghanistan today are running out of funds," he said.
In addition, 2.5 million veterans may not receive their September monthly disability checks if action is not taken, according to Fleischer, and a planned overhaul of the USS Stennis will have to be delayed.
"This is deeply troubling," he said.
President Bush requested the extra funds from Congress in March.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has told Congress that if the Transportation Security Administration doesn't receive an additional $4.4 billion in funding for 2002, it will be unable to meet security deadlines imposed by Congress.
The TSA is in the process of hiring and training thousands of federal passenger and baggage screeners, who must be in place at 429 airports by November 19 and be ready to screen all passenger-checked baggage by December 31. The agency also must purchase 800 bomb-detection systems and other equipment.
The president planned to discuss the congressional agenda later Wednesday with House and Senate Republic leaders. He is committed to finding compromises on outstanding bills, Fleischer said.
On other subjects, Fleischer said:
-- Last weekend's assassination of Afghan Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir shows Afghanistan "remains a dangerous place, and it remains a place the United States is committed to helping to find stability as we fight the war against terrorism."
-- Regardless of what kind of compromise legislation is passed by Congress to halt financial abuses by some companies, "by any measure, corporate America is in for some big changes that are going strengthen the ability of the government to regulate them and halt corruption."
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