Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, a veto-proof 399-24, to bar permanent US military bases in Iraq. The legislation is intended to make clear the U.S. doesn't have its sights on an open-ended involvement in the Middle East and that the administration can't keep a decades-long troop presence in Iraq, ala South Korea. Rep. John Murtha will push for a new redeployment proposal next week and in September when the House is expected to consider new war spending and Gen. Petraeus delivers his progress report. Unlike previous bills, this one would require troop withdrawals begin in 60 days after enactment, but doesn't have a deadline for completion. The hope is this can get enough Republican support to strike a sticking agreement on a drawn down of forces. In addition to the anti-war measure, Murtha said he also wants to propose next week amendments that would require troops to meet certain standards before being deployed and cut in half the $225 million budget for the Guantanamo Bay military prison.
The Senate voted unanimously to approve legislation that "seeks to end inconsistencies in disability pay by providing for a special review of cases in which service members received low ratings of their level of disability. The aim is to determine if they were shortchanged. The bill also would boost severance pay and provide $50 million for improved diagnosis of veterans with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. The House was considering similar measures." This was originally to be included in the 2008 defense authorization bill, but separated out for a vote after that bill was scrapped for the time being.
UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen will introduce a bill soon allowing states to use their purchasing power to require drug companies to provide discounts on medications for low-wage workers. Under the proposal, states could negotiate the same breaks they get for people on Medicaid, the state-federal health-care program for the poor.