Just days before leaving Washington to campaign, Congress is moving to provide $70b more for military operations in
With Iraq alone costing about $8 billion a month, another infusion of funds will be needed next spring. Opinion polls show the war continues to be unpopular with voters, but even Democratic opponents of the war generally embrace the Pentagon measure, since it provides funding for body armor and other support for U.S. troops overseas.
The House passed the Pentagon appropriations bill Tuesday
night on a 394-22 vote, and the Senate could clear the bill for President Bush .
The House-Senate compromise bill provides $378 billion for core Pentagon programs, about a 5 percent increase, though not quite as much as Bush requested. The $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan is a down payment on war costs the White House has estimated will hit $110 billion for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.
With final passage of the bill, Congress will have approved $507 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan and heightened security at overseas military bases since the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The growing price tag of the Iraq conflict is partly driven by the need to repair and replace military equipment destroyed in battle or simply worn out in harsh, dusty conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Almost $23 billion was approved for Army, Marine Corps and National Guard equipment such as helicopters, armored Humvees, Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles, radios and night-vision equipment.
Another $1.9 billion is for new jammers to counter improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan and $1 billion is provided for body armor and other personal protective gear.
The measure includes a Democratic-sponsored provision against establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. GOP leaders dropped identical language from an Iraq funding bill this June.
While the measure enjoys sweeping support, the brief debate sparked partisan exchanges over the Iraq war.