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Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004

Senate approves defense spending bill

June 24, 2004

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— The Senate late Wednesday approved a $447 billion defense spending bill that covers only part of the Pentagon's upcoming war costs but gives the military a pay raise and increases troop levels.

Lawmakers voted 97-0 around 10:30 p.m. CDT on the bill authorizing Pentagon and Energy Department defense programs for the new budget year that begins in October.

The measure includes $25 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration plans to submit a supplemental budget at the start of the next calendar year, after November's election, that is expected to seek at least an additional $25 billion for the two ongoing military campaigns.

In a move opposed by the White House and Pentagon, senators also included a provision to add 20,000 troops to an Army stretched thin by the war in Iraq, the global war on terror and other commitments around the world. The size of the Army would increase by about 4 percent, to over 500,000.

The authorization bill, generally mirroring one passed a month ago in the House, includes an across-the-board 3.5 percent pay raise for military personnel.

There is also $10.2 billion for a missile defense system and billions more for such programs as the F/A-22 Raptor aircraft, Joint Strike Fighter and DD(X) destroyer program.

In voting earlier Wednesday, Senators passed an amendment requiring Bush to report to the Republican-controlled Congress on his efforts to stabilize Iraq. But they rejected one that would have forced him to give an estimate of how many American troops will remain in the violence-plagued country a year from now.

The bill goes to conference to be reconciled with the one passed by the House.

Though they authorized the programs, senators now must approve an appropriations bill to actually give the administration the money.

The House on Tuesday approved a $417 billion defense appropriations bill covering only the Defense Department programs. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a similar $416 billion defense spending measure.

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