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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-323111 Congress / Iraq Funding
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=3/8/2005

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=CONGRESS / IRAQ FUNDING (L-O)

NUMBER=2-323111

BYLINE= DAN ROBINSON

DATELINE= CAPITOL HILL

/// EDS: RE-RUNNING THIS SPOT FROM LAST NIGHT TO REMOVE THE EDITORS NOTE....AUDIO FOR THIS SPOT WAS FILED TODAY / WEDNESDAY ///

HEADLINE: House Readies Emergency Spending Bill for Iraq, Afghanistan

INTRO: A key congressional committee has approved President Bush's request for more than 80-billion dollars for military and other needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation also includes money for key nations in the war on terrorism. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill:

TEXT: Although lawmakers have differences over Iraq and aspects of the war on terrorism, the emergency spending bill is supported by opposition Democrats and Republicans because it funds urgently needed items for U.S. troops.

President Bush originally sought just under 82-billion dollars in his supplemental request. Most of this, 76-point-eight billion dollars, goes for troop-related requirements including military equipment, and needs in Afghanistan ranging from counter-narcotics to reconstruction.

The House Appropriations Committee added one-point-eight billion dollars to the president's request for body armor and modifications and replacement of "Humvees" and other fighting vehicles, and for radios, night-vision goggles and equipment to jam roadside bombs.

Lawmakers determined that money for construction of a new U.S. Embassy and diplomatic compound in Baghdad, just under 600-million dollars, will be included as a priority because of the threat to Americans there.

On foreign aid, the legislation includes one-point-seven billion dollars, most of which is earmarked for Afghanistan.

Counter-narcotics programs would get 594-million dollars, 400-million of which is for training Afghan police, and the rest for programs to reduce opium cultivation.

/// OPT /// Another 372-million dollars is designated for urgent health, reconstruction and other projects, with an additional slightly larger amount supporting economic, non-security reconstruction.

Lawmakers did not include another 616 million dollars for other projects in Afghanistan, saying these should be considered in the main 2006 budget process. They also reduced funds for international peacekeeping missions, and two other foreign aid programs. /// END OPT ///

In the Middle East and South Asia, the legislation includes 100-million for Jordan, and 150-million dollars for Pakistan.

Two-hundred million dollars originally going directly to the Palestinian Authority will be channeled instead through the U.S. Agency for International Development, with strict auditing requirements.

(Republican) Congressman Jim Kolbe says U.S. foreign aid is an investment in the future:

/// KOLBE ACT ///

"We must not look back 20 years from now and confront the knowledge that when faced with the opportunities of a Taleban-free Afghan government, of democracy-oriented government in the Ukraine, a Middle East craving freedom and representative government, we hesitated and left the democratic forces we unleashed adrift with only meager means and U.S. influence."

/// END ACT ///

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., with support from other Democrats, succeeded in his effort to restore the amount in the bill for food aid for Sudan's western Darfur region to President Bush's original figure of 150-million dollars.

The legislation also contains 656-million dollars for disaster relief in countries devastated by last December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Republican leaders plan to bring the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental bill to a vote by the full House next week. (signed)

NEB/DAR/MAR



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