House passes pared-down war funding; costs hit $1T
Legislation to fund the troop surge in Afghanistan was sent to President Obama on Tuesday after disgruntled Democrats failed to block it.
The Associated Press
DevelopmentsLeak: A criminal investigation into the leaking of thousands of secret reports about the Afghanistan war is focused on an Army intelligence analyst already charged with disclosing classified information, according to two Defense Department officials. Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old Army private first class who was charged in May with illegally downloading classified material, is believed to have had access to the leaked reports on Afghanistan that were posted on the WikiLeaks website Sunday.
France declares war: France has declared war on al-Qaida, and matched its fighting words with a first attack on a base camp of the terror network's North African branch, after the terror network killed Michel Germaneau, a French humanitarian worker it took hostage in April. The declaration and attack marked a shift in strategy for France. On Thursday, the French-backed Mauritanian forces attacked an al-Qaida camp on the border with Mali, killing at least six suspected terrorists. Experts confirmed it was the first attack outside Algeria on an al-Qaida base, and the first known time France has taken part.
— The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Months behind schedule and stripped of money for domestic stimulus programs, legislation to fund the troop surge in Afghanistan was sent to President Obama on Tuesday after disgruntled Democrats failed to block it.
Democratic leaders had to rely on Republican support to pass the almost $59 billion measure to fund Obama's additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and other programs. The final vote was 308-114. Twelve Republicans and 102 Democrats opposed it.
Pentagon leaders have warned that money to fund the troops could run out as early as Aug. 7, prompting the House, which is leaving at the end of the week for its August recess, to accept the pared-down Senate version of the legislation.
Last week the Senate rejected a larger, House-favored bill that would have included billions of dollars to help keep teachers on the job, provide aid for college students and enhance border security.
With the new war spending, the total amount of money that Congress has allotted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan surpasses $1 trillion.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., said he was torn between his obligation to bring the bill to the floor and his "profound skepticism" that the money would lead to a successful conclusion of the war in Afghanistan.
Even if there were greater confidence in the Afghan government, he said, "It would likely take so long it will obliterate our ability to make the kinds of long-term investments in our own country that are so desperately needed."
Republicans in turn chided Democrats for delaying for months before ending up with the same bill the Senate passed in May.
The president requested the emergency funding last February. After the Senate passed it in May, the House on July 1 approved its own version tacking on more than $20 billion in domestic spending. The Senate last week rejected that approach, falling 14 votes short of what was needed to break a GOP-led filibuster.
The bill includes more than $33.5 billion for the additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and to pay for other Pentagon operational expenses; $5.1 billion to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund; $6.2 billion for State Department aid programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Haiti; and $13.4 billion in benefits for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.