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U.S. Senate approves defense budget

RIA Novosti

10:23 07/10/2009 WASHINGTON, October 7 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Senate approved a bill on Tuesday to allocate $626 billion on defense spending in 2010, down from $653.7 billion in 2009.

The bill, passed 93-7, envisions $128 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and $498 billion for the rest of the Pentagon's budget. The figure puts the total spending on Afghanistan at about $300 billion since September 2001.

When he took office in January, President Barack Obama vowed to send 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan this year, bringing U.S. forces to a total of 68,000.

The bill is to be agreed on with a document approved by the House of Representatives and will than be submitted to Obama for signing.

The bill would also ban transfers of terrorist suspects from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba to the United States. Inmates are currently allowed to be transferred to face trial or prison.

The Pentagon would receive $7.7 billion for missile defense and $154 billion on maintaining defense capabilities, which is $2.4 billion less than the Defense Department requested.

The Senate bill offers no funding for the F-22 combat fighter and the replacement of the presidential helicopter VH-71, the issues that are likely to stir debate with House lawmakers.

The bill includes $2.5 billion for 10 C-17 cargo planes that were not requested and $3.65 billion to build two Navy destroyers, instead of the one requested.

Obama will hold a meeting with top U.S. officials on Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday, which experts said could set out a strategy in the countries and yield a final decision on the deployment of troops in Afghanistan.

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