US: war needs more money

U.S. lawmakers agreed to an $82 billion spending measure for military operations in &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Iraq and Afghanistan after striking compromises on new immigration restrictions, border security and a U.S. embassy in Iraq.

The agreement yesterday sends the measure to the House and Senate for final votes before it goes to President George W. Bush for his signature.

The funding pushes military costs for the two wars to more than $100 billion for fiscal year 2005, which ends Sept. 30. The spending bill is the fourth request outside the regular budget process for money to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will bring emergency spending approved since 2003 for the wars to more than $270 billion, tells Bloomberg.

Nearly $76 billion of the bill goes to combat-related expenditures, about $921 million more than the White House requested. The compromise also increases service member death benefits and the onetime death gratuity for combat fatalities, and adds a $100,000 insurance benefit for soldiers who have suffered traumatic injuries such as the loss of a limb or sight.

The final bill boosts funding for international food aid, providing $240 million, or $90 million more than the Bush request, and provides as much as $50 million to support &to=http:// ' target=_blank>African Union peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, Sudan.

But total foreign assistance was reduced by $1.5 billion, to $4.2 billion. For instance, the negotiators provide $592 million for the construction of a Baghdad embassy, about $70 million below the White House request. International peacekeeping and global war on terrorism funds got chopped, including money for a new law school, a courthouse, industrial parks and media development projects in Afghanistan that negotiators said were low priorities.

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