New York Times
October 25, 2001

Terror Bill Clears House; Moves to Senate

By Adam Clymer

WASHINGTON -- The House today overwhelmingly passed sweeping antiterrorism legislation including new attacks on money laundering. The bill stalled for the day in the Senate, but was scheduled for a final vote on Thursday, when adoption is all but certain.

The House voted 357 to 66 to adopt a compromise measure negotiated last week that would seek to fight terrorism through expanded surveillance and detention powers and increased restrictions on dealing with dubious foreign banks as part of the money-laundering provisions.

President Bush supports the bill and has asked Congressional leaders to get it to him for signing on Friday. This morning the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, said he believed the Senate would pass it today or Thursday.

But Mr. Daschle was unaware of a "hold," or filibuster threat, raised by two Oregon senators, Ron Wyden, a Democrat, and Gordon H. Smith, a Republican. They threatened to stall consideration of the bill to force the House to give ground on a 1998 law requiring federal prosecutors to follow state ethics rules.

Because Oregon rules prohibit "deceit," they said, sting operations and undercover investigations are now barred in their state because federal prosecutors cannot supervise them. "We have not been able to do a covert investigation in more than a year," Mr. Wyden complained. The two senators said that invited terrorists to come to Oregon.

The earlier Senate version of the antiterrorism bill, sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, remedied that problem, but House negotiators refused to accept the change, arguing that the problem was not the federal law, but Oregon's legal ethics rules.

The House had pushed the 1998 law to passage because members were outraged at the prosecution of Representative Joseph M. McDade, Republican of Pennsylvania. He was acquitted in 1996 of racketeering and bribery charges. Mr. Smith and Mr. Wyden withdrew their objection this evening after Mr. Leahy inserted his legislation on undercover operations into a foreign aid bill.

Mr. Wyden and Mr. Daschle both said the White House promised to push the House to accept the measure. Chris Mathews, Mr. Smith's press secretary, said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert had promised the senator he would cooperate. Mr. Daschle told the Senate that if somehow the House resisted, "This will come back again and again, and we will continue to send it to the House again and again."

If the Leahy measure does not become law, Mr. Smith warned, "Oregon is open for business to terrorists." He and Mr. Wyden argued that if terrorists could establish a base where they would be free of federal undercover operations, the whole nation would be threatened.

The House vote had 211 Republicans, 145 Democrats and one independent in favor, and 3 Republicans, 62 Democrats and one independent opposed.

When it comes up in the Senate on Thursday, no amendments will be permitted and it will be debated for five hours. Since the compromise measure except for the absence of the Oregon provision is very close to the original Senate bill which passed 96 to 1, passage in the afternoon is most likely.

Copyright 2001, New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

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