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: June 16, 2009, 06:50:51 PM

Congress takes up $106 billion war funding bill
Vote expected to be close due to anti-war lawmakers, IMF funding
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updated 2 hours, 18 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Democratic leaders searched for votes Tuesday as the U.S. House of Representatives took up a $106 billion bill to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Complicating the outcome is the inclusion of money for poor countries, aid to Pakistan, pandemic flu preparation and government rebates to people who trade in gas-guzzling cars.

The Pentagon has said that without the bill the Army could start running out of war funds as early as July. President Barack Obama has pushed for the package, arguing that it is crucial to his efforts to wind down operations in Iraq while boosting personnel and fighting power in Afghanistan.

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But Republicans, normally solid supporters of military spending, mobilized against the bill because of the addition of $5 billion needed to secure a $108 billion U.S. line of credit to the International Monetary Fund to help poor countries deal with the world recession.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs defended the initiative, saying Obama had made a commitment at the G-20 meeting in London in April. "This is important relief to ensure that we have strong global trade. I don't think, given where we are in the world economy, that we would want to see a pullback in that commitment."

'Global bailout loan program'
But Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, contended that Democrats were endangering troops by shifting money to create room for a "global bailout loan program."

Unable to count on Republicans, Democrats had to appeal to some of the 51 anti-war colleagues who opposed the legislation when it was first offered in May. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, indicated that he wouldn't change his "no" vote. "America has to start taking care of things here at home and we can't do it by continuing to support wars based on lies."

"One of the problems is we have some very deep-seated philosophical views that pursuing Afghanistan and Iraq with additional funding is not appropriate," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, "I think we have the votes," he said, noting that saying he was confident "might overstate it."

It was unclear if the measure would come to a final vote Tuesday.

Other factors
There are several other factors that could sway votes: there is support for $7.7 billion included to combat the pandemic flu threat and lawmakers with links to the auto industry favor the $1 billion for a "cash for clunkers" program providing up to $4,500 in vouchers for consumer who trade in old cars for more fuel-efficient models.


What - supporting the troops - with 5 billion for a line of credit, 7.7 billion for flu virus -  this is business usual for the US Congress - but at some point most folks will agree 12.7 billion dollars is real money...

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