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House, Senate Approve Iraq War-Funds Bill

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House, Senate Approve Iraq War-Funds Bill

Politics

House, Senate Approve Iraq War-Funds Bill

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Well, as we've heard today's White House news conference touched on Iran. But it was mostly about Iraq, and so was the briefing at the Pentagon by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He acknowledged that the public is looking for signs that the situation is getting better there. We'll hear more about that in a moment.

As Don mentioned, the House is set to pass the emergency war funding bill today. It does not contain timetables, and that's upset many Democrats, while winning some support from Republicans.

NPR's David Welna is at the Capitol.

DAVID WELNA: The emergency supplemental has things in it that Republicans don't like including a minimum wage increase and some $20 billion in domestic spending President Bush never requested. Still as California House Republican David Dreier noted, it does have nearly $100 billion for the Iraq war and no timelines.

Representative DAVID DREIER (Republican, California): Ultimately, we have succeeded in ensuring that this body has the opportunity to fund our troops without simultaneously handing the terrorists a date certain for our surrender.

WELNA: But for Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, this is not a satisfactory conclusion to a debate that's gone on for weeks.

Representative JIM McGOVERN (Democrat, Massachusetts): Some might see this Iraq supplemental as a victory for President Bush in his never-ending quest to secure open-ended, unaccountable funding for his disastrous policy in Iraq. If so, it is a hollow victory.

WELNA: Democratic opposition to the funding even included the bill's author, appropriations chair, David Obey.

Representative DAVID OBEY (Democrat, Wisconsin; Chairman, House Appropriations Committee): I hate this agreement. I'm going to vote against the major portion of this agreement even though I negotiated it.

WELNA: But other Democrats said it was no use sending President Bush another funding bill with timelines in it since Congress does not have a two-thirds majority willing to override a presidential veto. Here's New York's Louise Slaughter.

Representative LOUISE SLAUGHTER (Democrat, New York): If this Congress delay funding by continuing to back a bill we cannot pass at this time, we would not force the president to end the war. All indications are he would leave our soldiers in Iraq, and without adequate funding they would have to do even more with even less.

WELNA: Slaughter vowed Democrats won't let up trying to bring the war to an end.

David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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