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The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to create the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

"We are making great progress on the war on terror. Part of that progress will be the ability for us to protect the American public at home. This is a very important piece of legislation," President Bush told Senate Republican leaders in a telephone call. The president was headed to Europe for NATO meetings.

Bush is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.

The measure, which the Senate approved by a vote of 90-9, followed attempts by Democrats to strike provisions favorable to

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, Texas A&M University, and companies that reincorporate in tax havens.

Sen. Trent Lott (R., Miss.) promised potential GOP defectors that he would revisit the special interest measures.

The new department, which constitutes the largest federal government reorganization in half a century, will merge 22 agencies and employ 170,000.