House passes defense spending bill
By Perry Bacon Jr.
The House on Wednesday passed a major bill that provides more than $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also extends programs that provide unemployment insurance and health care for people who have lost jobs in the recession.
With Congress rushing to finish its work before the end of the year, the $636 billion bill to fund the Department of Defense also included several temporary extensions of current law on several provisions that were due to expire at the end of the year, and Congress had not yet determined if or how it should change current law. Under the bill, unemployment and health care benefits for the jobless are extended temporarily until next March, as is a controversial law passed in 2001 called the Patriot Act that is designed to make it easier for the U.S. government to fight terrorism.
The bill, which also provides a 3.4 percent military pay increase, passed by a vote of 395 to 34. It is expected to be passed by the Senate over the next week. It does not include funding for the 30,000 troop increase in Afghanistan President Obama called for earlier this year, which is expected to cost about $30 billion.
The bill is part of a series of temporary extensions the House is poised to approve on Wednesday that will also provide funding to keep the Department of Defense open through Dec. 23 as it awaits Senate action on the funding bill that passed the House today, and a provision to increase the amount of debt the government is allowed to about $12.4 trillion, from its current $12.1 million.
Democrats earlier in the week scrapped a plan to increase the debt limit by more than $1.8 trillion, which would likely have provided enough money for increases in the debt through next year's elections. The provision in today's legislation for the debt is extended to account for the government's spending through February.
Web Politics Editor
December 16, 2009; 2:20 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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