Six of Colorado's Congressional delegation said Thursday Congress must pass a $20 billion emergency bill that will help fund relief to victims,continued recovery efforts and an investigation into Tuesday's attacks.
President Bush officially requested the money from the House Thursday,and Congress rushed to respond,holding meetings throughout the day to finalize details. Less than an hour after a bomb threat had forced an evacuation of the Capitol,the House called a special session 7 p.m. Thursday night to vote on the bill.
By 9 p.m. EDT,the House had agreed to up ante to $40 billion.
Sen. Wayne Allard (R,Colo.) said $20 billion was just the beginning.
“I know this is a lot of money,but there was a lot of damage,” Allard said,minutes after returning from a damage-assessment tour of the Pentagon. “I anticipate we will need to spend much more.”
Rep. Bob Schaffer (R,Colo.) lamented the choices facing lawmakers.
“I know how much a road costs,how much an airport costs,but nobody has a perspective on what the cost should be to respond to this tragedy,” he said. Schaffer said $20 billion is the White House's estimate of immediate needs.
“We don't want any single American to suffer,but at the same time,we don't want to drive any American into debt.”
Rep. Mark Udall (D,Colo.) said he supports the bill enthusiastically.
“The last thing the victims of these attacks and those working to help them need to worry about is where their resources will come from,” Udall said.
“We have to be responsible in how we spend money,but I think in this case $20 billion is responsible,” he said.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D,Colo.) agreed,calling for unity within Congress.
“We need to do whatever it takes to address this national emergency,” she said. “This is a time of crisis and we must join across the aisle,work in a bipartisan fashion.”
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R,Colo.) said lawmakers owe it to Americans to pass the bill.
“The most important thing we can do is protect the lives and property of our people,” he said. “Everything else pales in comparison.”
Although he supports the bill,Rep. Joel Hefley (R,Colo.) said Congress should closely monitor the spending.
“I hope there are strings attached to this money,” Hefley said. “We want to make sure this money will do what we want it to do.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Scott McInnis' (R,Colo.) said the congressman did not want to comment until the bill was finalized.
Sen. Ben Campbell (R,Colo.) could not be reached for comment.