The U.S. Senate has opened formal debate on President Bush's 87 billion funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan. The House is to take up the measure next week, with both chambers to vote on it later this month.
Republicans, including Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, are calling for swift passage of the package. "It is an emergency supplemental bill, which should be acted upon without delay," he said.
Amid concern over the growing costs of the occupation of Iraq in terms of U.S. casualties and the financial burden on taxpayers, Democrats are seeking guarantees that the funds will be used effectively. Senator Daschle said "we have serious misgivings about providing the funds requested until we have confidence that they will be used in service to a plan that will successfully our objectives in Iraq."
There is growing bipartisan support for having future Iraqi oil revenues used to reimburse U.S. taxpayers for part of the package, $20.3 billion to be used to rebuild Iraq.