Thursday, May 10, 2007

House Passes New Iraq Spending Bill

On a 221-205 vote, the House of Representatives approved legislation today providing additional war funds in two installments. The first portion would cover costs until Aug. 1, including $42.8 billion to buy equipment and train Iraqi and Afghan security forces. However, the rest of the supplemental war funds would be "fenced off," contigent upon a July 13th progress report by President Bush to the Congress on certain political, economic, and security benchmarks that would need to be met by the Iraqis. Congress would then vote on whether or not to free an additional $52.8 billion needed to cover costs through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. If they choose not to do so, U.S. forces would have to be redeployed in 180 days.

However, Bush has said he will veto this bill and there aren't enough votes to pass it in the Senate, which is working on its own version of the supplemental that would have some sort of benchmarks for measuring progress in Iraq, presumably with some consequences such as withholding economic aid to the Iraqi government. Bush is under increasing pressure from some Republicans in Congress to compromise on this point, but it's unclear whether that will happen or if those Republicans will hold him to it.

Whatever it ends up as, the new legislation is expected to be sent to Bush before the end of the month.

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