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US Senate Approves $81 Billion for Iraq, Afghanistan

The U.S. Senate has approved by a vote of 99 to zero spending $81 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for victims of last December's Indian Ocean tsunami.

Most of the money is to fund military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of the current budget year, September 30. The Pentagon is expected to ask for more money for operations in 2006.

The legislation gives the administration much of what it asked for, and also includes $907 million for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and nearly $700 million for homeland security and counterterrorism activities.

Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"It meets the needs of our fighting forces overseas, it provides funding to meet our international responsibilities, it offers relief to the victims of the catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and addresses emergency requirements here at home," he said.

The House of Representatives passed its own version of the legislation last month. Negotiators from both chambers will have to resolve differences in the two bills before a final version is sent to President Bush for his signature.

Unlike the House measure, the Senate bill would fund construction of a U.S. embassy in Iraq. The Senate also added a provision that calls on the Pentagon to overturn its decision to scrap one of the Navy's 12 aircraft carriers, a provision not included in the House bill.

The House legislation includes immigration reform provisions, which the Senate decided to leave out.