The House voted to advance the Pentagon an additional $45 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday as it passed a $409 billion defense spending bill.
The House approved the emergency "bridge fund," which would bring costs of the U.S. military operations to more than $300 billion, as President Bush defended the Iraq war in the face of sliding public support.
Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who steered the bill through the House, said it would take care of "the troops who serve our nation" and "provide them with the equipment and technology necessary to accomplish their mission."
Republicans said the bridge fund is needed to carry the Pentagon from the Oct. 1 start of the next fiscal year through March 2006, when it will need another emergency spending bill. The GOP rebuffed an effort by Democrats to require Bush to submit a report to Congress on criteria that he will use to judge when U.S. troops can be withdrawn from Iraq.
Although the White House backed the overall House bill, it complained that lawmakers trimmed $3 billion from the Pentagon's base operations, excluding the wars, a move it said could shortchange regular military operations.
The bill backs most of the administration's requests for military hardware but would cancel $150 million in funding for a Lockheed Martin Corp. cruise missile, providing only $2 million for that program's termination.
Overall, the bill would fund $76.8 billion for Pentagon weapons, $171.5 million higher than Bush's request.