In a bipartisan vote of 229-191, the House endorsed Thursday a watered-down anti-terrorism bill that even Republican leaders said must be strengthened in conference with the Senate.
President Clinton voiced disappointment as he traveled home from an anti-terrorism conference in Egypt. “If we’re going to have a bill, we need a real bill. It needs to be a bill that will help us combat terrorism at home and abroad,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I certainly hope that when this bill gets into conference, it will be made much stronger.”
Attorney General Janet Reno complained that the House bill “keeps too many Americans vulnerable to terrorists” by stripping sections that would allow the government to fight terrorism “in the same way that we deal with organized crime.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish human-rights watchdog, called the watered-down bill “shocking and mind-boggling” and an “affront to the memory of the victims of the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings and terrorism in Israel and elsewhere.”