US senate approves new funding for Iraq, Afghan wars

By Xinhua

Washington : The US senate passed a bill that will provide additional $70 billion for war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year 2008 that began Oct 1.

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The strong 70-25 vote Tuesday signalled sufficient bipartisan support that the measure could clear Congress as early as Wednesday.

US President George W. Bush said he is ready to sign it. About $40 billion are earmarked for Iraq and the rest $30 billion for Afghanistan.

The measure, a Republican-sponsored amendment to a $555 billion government spending bill, stopped short of mentioning any words about how and when to withdraw the US troops from Iraq.

Therefore, it was viewed as a victory for the Bush administration and Republicans who have spent much of the year fending off Democrats’ attempts to link war funding to a timetable to pull out troops.

“Even those of us who have disagreed on this war have always agreed on one thing: Troops in the field will not be left without the resources they need,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

For Democrats, the passage of the bill is the third setback in the day. Before the senate voted on the $70 billion war-funding bill, another bill that calls for the military to begin pulling troops out of Iraq within 90 days was defeated in a 24-71 vote.

A bill with a non-binding timetable to have US troops out of Iraq in one year also failed.

The Democrats and the Bush administration have been locked in a fight for war funding for several months.

The administration wants nearly $190 billion for war efforts in fiscal year 2008, but Democrats prefer to approve the money in instalments.

A previous bill has already provided $50 billion for the war efforts. With the newly approved $70 billion, the administration said it would be enough to support war efforts through June 2008.