WASHINGTON - War-funding legislation survived a fierce partisan battle in the House yesterday, a major step in providing commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan the money they would need for military operations in the coming months.
The $106 billion measure, in addition to about $80 billion for military operations, provides for an array of other spending priorities, including $7.7 billion to respond to the flu pandemic and more than $10 billion in development and security aid for Pakistan and Iraq as well as countries such as Mexico and the nation of Georgia.
Democratic leaders pushing the bill for the Obama administration had to overcome an unusual alliance. Anti-war Democrats opposed continued war spending and Republicans condemned $5 billion in the measure to secure a $108 billion U.S. line of credit to the International Monetary Fund for loans to poor countries.
Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., 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."
The vote was 226-202, with only five Republicans voting for the bill and 32 Democrats opposing it.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., unsuccessfully appealed to Republicans for support, saying 80 percent of the package still went to the troops. "Stand up for them," he said.
The Senate could move as early as this week on the legislation.
In Iraq, meanwhile, the U.S. military said two more American soldiers died yesterday - one in a roadside bombing in southern Iraq and the other of a non-combat related cause in the north. *