Senate Approves $70 Billion For Iraq-Afghanistan

The Senate, by a vote of 70-25, approved $70 billion for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, adding another political victory to the recent string of wins by President Bush and GOP congressional leaders.

21 Democrats, including Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (Mich.), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) voted for the bill, while Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) was the only Republican to vote against it.

The House is expected to take up the Iraq-Afghanistan funding provision on Wednesday as part of its own debate over the larger $516 billion omnibus spending bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered the amendment adding the additional Iraq funding to the omnibus, and he and the White House took a very tough line on the issue, saying the overall spending bill would not pass without it.

“Let me be crystal clear: If this amendment does not pass in its current form, the underlying bill does not become law," McConnell said.

The Senate also beat back attempts by Iraq to force both binding and non-binding withdrawal dates for removing U.S. troops from Iraq or altering their mission there, with neither Democratic proposal, offered by Levin and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), receiving more than 50 votes. Both measures required 60 votes for passage.

Bush will now have funding to continue the Iraq campaign without restrictions until early next year, when Congress will revisit the issue. Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are set to appear on Capitol Hill in March to discuss the latest developments in Iraq, setting the stage for another loud political battle over the issue in early '08.
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