Obama wants more money for Afghanistan war. Will Congress grant it?
Congress faces a formidable agenda this summer, but nothing is as wrenching as upcoming votes to fund new spending on the Afghanistan war.
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"Our military is about to undertake the most important mission in the entire Afghan conflict," said Senate majority leader Harry Reid in a briefing before the May 27 Senate vote on a supplemental war-funding measure. "We've asked tens of thousands of our troops to defend our country [and] the people of Afghanistan, and defeat Al Qaeda and other terrorists who train abroad and plot to kill us at home."Skip to next paragraph
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The Senate passed a $58.8 billion supplemental spending bill, 67 to 28. In addition to the $33 billion in war spending, the bill includes $5.1 billion for disaster relief for past hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, as well as an initial $68 million for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and $13.4 billion for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
Moreover, a proposal by Sen. Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin to mandate a nonbinding timetable to end US deployment in Afghanistan won 18 votes, including from three of the top four Senate Democratic leaders – Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York, and Patty Murray of Washington.
Obama has committed to begin removing US forces from Afghanistan by June 2011 – a transition that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton estimates will take three to five years.
Backers say the argument for such a measure is fiscal as well as strategic. "In fairness, unlike his predecessor, President Obama has attempted to provide realistic budget estimates for war costs in the current and the next fiscal years. But beyond FY2011, the president's budget numbers are unrealistically low," said Senator Feingold during the Senate floor debate.