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Sen. Clinton confronts McCain over blocked 9/11 funds

Story Highlights

• Hillary Clinton seemed frustrated John McCain blocked funding for 9/11 program
• Clinton had added funding amendent to Iraq-Afghanistan war spending bill
• McCain's office said he doesn't oppose program, just how it was tacked on to bill
• The objection forces Democratic leaders to withdraw the amendment

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, described as frustrated and animated, confronted presidential rival Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor after he blocked funding for a 9/11 responders' health care program, people familiar with the encounter told CNN.

Clinton, D-New York, has worked for years to secure funding for the program, a $45 million amendment added to the $120 billion-plus emergency funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"She got pretty hot about it," a Senate appropriations committee aide said about Thursday's encounter. "She went over to him and was trying to convince [McCain] it was a needed program, an important program, and was rebuffed."

McCain, R-Arizona, and two other fiscal conservatives, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, objected to Clinton's amendment -- and its $45 million price tag.

The objection forced Democratic leaders to withdraw the amendment.

McCain supports the 9/11 program but wants it funded during through the regular appropriations process, his office said.

Clinton "disagreed with that and made it pretty clear," said another aide who described her as "frustrated" and "disappointed" that the money was blocked.

One witness to the exchange, which occurred while senators were crowded on the floor for a series of votes, described Clinton as "animated."

A spokeswoman for McCain declined to comment about the incident, saying conversations between senators on the floor are private.

Clinton had a similar response when she left the Senate floor shortly afterward.

"We keep our conversations to ourselves," she said. But she acknowledged that she and McCain "have a lively relationship."

 
 
 
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