The Democratic-led Congress authorized more Iraq war spending on Friday, sending President George W. Bush a defense bill requiring no change in strategy after failing again to impose a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals.
The defense policy bill, approved 90-3 by the U.S. Senate, also expanded the size of the U.S. Army and set conditions on the Bush administration’s plan to build a missile defense system in Europe.
The measure already had passed the House of Representatives and now goes to Bush, who is expected to sign it into law. It authorizes Pentagon programs expected to cost $506.9 billion during fiscal 2008, which began in October.
The bill authorized another $189.4 billion for the Iraq and Afghan wars, for which Congress has already approved some $600 billion. But it does not deliver the new money. That is done by appropriations legislation at the center of a big dispute on Capitol Hill.
“I was pleased to see … no policy changes to the Petraeus plan,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, referring to U.S. Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus whose plan for a temporary boost in U.S. troops in Iraq has been credited with reducing violence.
“The effort (to change course in Iraq) is not over,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said after the vote. But he did not know what the next step in that struggle would be.