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Antiterror package deal close

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 18, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Senate and House negotiators neared a deal Monday on a $20-billion antiterrorism package heeding President Bush's demands for spending restraint but devoting more than he wanted to domestic security and rebuilding from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Aides were hoping to shake hands on the outlines of an agreement that leading lawmakers could approve today.

The emerging package's $20-billion price tag would be a win for Bush, who repeatedly has threatened to veto anything more expensive. He has said that the measure provides enough money for now for the war in Afghanistan and the battle against terrorism and that he will seek more early next year if necessary.

Thanks to White House pressure, Democrats lost efforts in recent weeks to push packages through the House and Senate that were worth at least $15-billion more.

The package would cut the $7.3-billion for the military that Bush wanted to roughly $3.5-billion to $4-billion.

In addition, a bit less than $8.5-billion would be set aside for domestic security programs, and about the same amount would be provided for the New York and Washington areas, where jets smashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Western Pennsylvania, where a fourth jetliner crashed, would get a small portion of those rebuilding funds.

The tentative package would include $2.5-billion for public health and countering bioterrorism, about $1-billion more than Bush proposed.

The $20-billion for antiterrorism programs is half the $40-billion that Congress approved just days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Statue visits will resume

NEW YORK -- Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, will reopen to visitors Thursday for the first time since terrorists leveled the World Trade Center just across New York's harbor.

But the statue itself will remain closed for security reasons until next year, the National Park Service said Monday.

Tourists will go through tightened screening, similar to airport security, that will take place before visitors get on boats for the trip to the island.

Pentagon gets a bus stop

ARLINGTON, Va. -- For the first time since a hijacked jet slammed into it, workers at the Pentagon on Monday could catch buses nearby.

The new $36-million Pentagon Transit Center is dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The new facility was designed in response to general security concerns well before the attacks.

The new bus staging areas are 300 feet from the building. The old one was 10 feet away.

Green Beret remembered

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Staff Sgt. Brian "Cody" Prosser, one of three Army Green Berets killed by an errant U.S. bomb in Afghanistan, was remembered Monday as "the best of the best" who gave his life doing what he loved -- serving his country.

"Cody is a hero and I will love and miss him for the rest of my life," said his widow, Shawna, after his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Prosser, 28, from Frazier Park, Calif., was killed Dec. 5.

Three of Prosser's colleagues who were hurt in the incident attended the ceremony in wheelchairs, wrapped in blankets to shield them from the cold wind.

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