After months of negotiations, a $162-billion measure to pay for U.S.
military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is headed for congressional
approval. The vote in Congress late Thursday was 268 to 155. VOA's Dan
Robinson reports, compromises were required by majority Democrats,
minority Republicans, and the White House, after a year and a half
standoff over the supplemental spending bill.
Acting on a
measure approved by the Senate in May, but modified in last
minute-negotiations in the House, lawmakers approved $162 billion for
the Pentagon to support military operations Democrats succeeded in
adding billions for an expanded GI Bill with education benefits for
military veterans, enhanced unemployment benefits for Americans.
Republicans joined in supporting veterans provisions, and disaster aid
for U.S. flood zones, and for repairs of levees in Louisiana.
is controversial language that led to confrontation and presidential
vetos in the past, such as provisions setting a timetable or goal of
withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked by reporters before the House vote whether this could be considered a failure by Democrats:
is the Republicans in the Senate who enable this policy, and it is the
President of the United States who has their, who are complicit, they
are complicit with the president to make sure he never has to get a
bill on his desk with a timeline [for withdrawal from Iraq], because
the American people want a timeline and his vetoing it is an unpopular
move for him," said Nancy Pelosi.
The measure, which pushes out
of regular budget war funding to well over $600 billion, does include a
requirement that future U.S. reconstruction aid for Iraq be matched by
the Iraqi government.
It also prohibits funds from being used
to establish permanent bases in Iraq, something the Bush administration
denies is being planned.
Anti-war Democrats voiced frustration, with many saying they would vote against the measure.
of the Congressional Black Caucus, Barbara Lee, decried the lack of
provisions to require that Congress approve bilateral agreements being
negotiated with Iraq, while John Lewis spoke out emotionally against
LEE: "There is no way, now way, I will vote to continue funding any combat operations in Iraq. This funding needs to end."
LEWIS: "I will not vote for another dollar, another dime, another nickel, another penny, for this war!"
praised bipartisan cooperation, but Indiana's Mike Pence took Democrats
to task for their insistence on adding money for domestic needs.
all the promises to the country about putting our fiscal house in
order, here we are again with a massive amount of increased domestic
spending with nary a thought to how we are going to pay for it, passing
the burden on to future generations of Americans," said Congressman
Democrat's division of the bill into two separate votes,
gave those on the far left of the party the opportunity to vote against
the war, but for domestic needs.
Congressional passage of the
bill, after Senate action and the president's likely signature, marks
the last supplemental lawmakers will act on before the November
With pressure taken off the Pentagon to
sustain operations in both war zones, it will then be up to either
Democratic Senator Barack Obama or Republican Senator John McCain to
decide on a future course regarding both Iraq and Afghanistan.