RTTNews - The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday a $96.7 billion measure for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30, plus anti-flu programs as well as security aid to its ally Pakistan among others.
President Barack Obama had asked for $85 billion for the two wars, but lawmakers from both parties added almost $12 billion for other domestic and military programs besides $2 billion to prepare for fighting influenza pandemic.
The biggest share of $47.7 billion is earmarked to support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and another $23 billion is to be used to replace equipment, damaged or worn out, in the two conflicts. The measure also has $3.1 billion for eight Boeing Co C-17s and 11 Lockheed Martin C-130 transport planes.
The House bill includes $1 billion for Pakistan of which $400 million is to help build up its security forces' ability to wage counterinsurgency warfare at a time when U.S. lawmakers worry about the nuclear-armed ally's stability. It also includes another $600 million in economic development aid to Islamabad and to improve education and democratic reforms there.
Afghanistan would get about $980 million for economic development and agriculture programs to bolster national and provincial governments and democratic reforms.
However, the measure did not include President Obama's request for $80 million to close the detention facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amid congressional concerns about what to do with the detainees there.
The bill passed the House with a lopsided 368-60 margin.
However, the House Appropriations Committee also tagged the funding with a progress report in one year's time on those two governments' cooperation with U.S. goals under the new approach.
The president cannot wave a magic wand and end that war, said committee Chairman Dave Obey, a Democratic critic of the two wars.
I have a profound doubt that he can succeed, not because of any problem with his policy but because I am dubious that there are the tools available in that region for us to succeed using any policy, he added.
The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday approved a $91.3 billion version of the measure, but with tight restrictions forbidding their use to transfer or free any detainees on U.S. soil.
The Senate is working on the companion measure and differences, which will have to be resolved, including money for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and how to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that houses terrorism suspects.
After the full Senate votes, the two chambers will reconcile their rival versions to send a final bill to President Obama for his signature.
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