9/11 Panel Funds Sought

Seven Democratic senators joined Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) yesterday in endorsing an extra $11 million for the new independent commission examining the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The panel is projected to go broke by August without more funding.

The senators, including Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), want money for the commission to be added to the supplemental war budget proposal now before Congress.

The move is likely to spark a battle with the White House, which did not include the funding in its supplemental spending request.

The commission, headed by former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean (R), has suffered delays since its formation in November. It also may face questions about conflicts of interest among its members. At least three of the 10 commissioners are directors of international financial or consulting firms; five work for law firms that represent airlines; and three have ties to the U.S. military or defense contractors, the Associated Press reported.

Senate Cuts Taxes for Troops

Legislation to ease tax burdens for military personnel and their families won unanimous Senate support, with lawmakers determined to show their gratitude to the men and women risking their lives in Iraq.

The legislation, which passed 97-0, excludes military death benefits from taxable income, allows reservists and National Guard to deduct travel expenses related to their service, and ensures that service members forced to make frequent moves will not be subject to capital gains taxes on the sales of their homes.

The House, after separating the military tax breaks from a package of other tax-related measures, passed a similar version last week in a 422-0 vote. The two chambers must still reconcile their differences before sending a bill to the president.

Mayors Seek Aid for Security

The nation's mayors said that the heightened state of alert is costing their cities $70 million every week, an expense they said could be eased with more federal aid sent directly rather than through states.

A survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors of about 150 city governments showed they are spending an additional $21.4 million a week on wartime homeland security since the national alert level went to orange on March 17.

Iraqi Oil Plan Defended

Iraqi oil resources can be used to help pay the costs of occupation and reconstruction under international law, U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley said Thursday.

"International law provides that the United States is entitled to use the money from oil sales to pay for such obligations as food and water, health care, roads and bridges, schools and airports," the Iowa Republican said in a speech on the Senate floor.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writer Dan Eggen, the Associated Press and Reuters