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Congress Passes Stripped-Down War-Funding Bill

Yesterday evening, the House passed a stripped-down supplemental war funding bill, providing the administration with $59 billion for continuing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama is expected to sign the bill today. The vote was 308 to 114, with 148 Democrats and 160 Republicans in support and 102 Democrats and 12 Republicans in opposition.

The funding comes amid the leak of tens of thousands of classified military documents casting doubt on the Obama administration’s Afghanistan strategy, showing Pakistan in support of the Taliban and describing problems with the civilian surge. President Obama told reporters yesterday, “While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan.” But the leak has left many on the Hill wondering just what that $59 billion will do. Anti-war members Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) called again for returning military personnel from Pakistan.

Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), who authored a prior version of the provision, voted no. “I have the obligation to bring this [funding bill] before the House to allow the institution to work its will,” he said. “But I also have the obligation to my conscience to indicate, by my individual vote, my profound skepticism that this action will accomplish much more than to serve as a recruiting incentive for those who most want to do us ill.”

The war funding comes none too soon for the Pentagon, which expected the money in May or June and said it might have to curtail troops’ salaries if the funds did not materialize. The funds will keep 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan until December.

A prior House version of the bill contained billions in domestic spending — including $10 billion for states to keep teachers employed, $1 billion for summer jobs programs and $700 million for U.S.-Mexico border security. The version of the bill now due to become law includes emergency funds for Haiti, but no domestic spending.

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