Monday, April 23, 2007

House, Senate agree on Iraq war spending bill provisions

After finalizing language in conference, the Democratic-controlled Congress will clear the measure through both houses by Friday and send it to Bush by early next week. The legislation requires the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq beginning October 1st of this year, with a goal of completing the pullout by April 1st, 2008. Troops that remain in Iraq after next April 1st could only train Iraqi security units, protect U.S forces and conduct targeted counter-terror operations.

Furthermore, it requires troop withdrawal to begin on July 1st of this year if President Bush cannot certify that the Iraqi government is making progress in disarming militias, reducing sectarian violence and forging political agreements.

In addition, the bill restricts foreign aid spending in Iraq if benchmarks are not met, bars deployment of troops not deemed "fully mission capable," and limits combat tours to one year for Army units and seven months for Marines. President Bush can waive these restrictions, but most report he has done so.

Lastly, many of the domestic spending of the House bill has been stripped out except for $25 billion, mostly for medical care for troops and veterans and aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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