Wednesday, April 2, 2003

House, Senate leaders seek more money to aid airlines

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - House Republican leaders want to give airlines $3.2 billion to offset additional costs from war and terrorism, more than the Senate but still less than what airlines want.

The House and Senate appropriations committees passed their proposals Tuesday as part of the spending plan for the war in Iraq.

Both airline-relief plans may be too much for the White House, which said it's inclined to allow market forces to shrink the industry. The Bush administration may oppose any package that's more than $900 million, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

"I haven't got any reason to believe they'll accept it," Stevens said.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, an advocate of limited help, said the votes "show that a considerable gulf remains between Congress and the administration regarding the amount and structure of this assistance."

Both proposals would freeze airline executive pay at 2002 levels, and an amended Senate version would extend unemployment insurance for workers for a total to taxpayers of $2.7 billion.

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