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House OKs defence bill; Afghan war slammed

House OKs defence bill; Afghan war slammed

Jul 20, 2012 - 16:00

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Following two days of a heated debate on the war in Afghanistaninfo-icon, American lawmakers on Thursday okayed a $606 billion defence budget for 2013, media reports said.

Although members slammed the conflict as a sheer waste of lives and cash, the House of Representatives approved $87.7 billion for funding the Afghanistan war and other overseas operations.

Passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives by a vote of 326-90, the massive defence bill in its present form could be vetoed by the White House, according to the Xinhua news agency.

About $2 billion more than President Barack Obama’ request and $8 billion above the limit set by the 2010 Budget Control Act, the measure was approved after several amendments.

The bill was originally put at $519 billion, but legislators approved an amendment that increased its size by $2 billion. The Senate is also likely to raise objections to the move, said AFP.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, whose amendments about economy cuts were rejected, opposed the defense department spending. "The bloated Pentagon budget must be addressed if we are serious about solving our nation's deficit."

Democrat Jim Moran hit out at the Pentagon for signing a contract with the Russian firm Rosoboronexport, which allegedly sells mortars, sniper rifles and attack helicopters to Syria.

The Pentagon has procured from the Russian firm some 33 Mi-17 attack helicopters that are to be used by the Afghan military after US operations come to an end in Afghanistan.

Before it could be sent to President Obama for signing, the House version of the Pentagon budget has to be reconciled with the Senate account. The Democratic-dominated Senate says the bill is violative of a spending cap agreed last year.

But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers supported the bill. "This takes care of our troops at the highest possible level, keeps America at the forefront of defense technologies and boosts key training and readiness programs to prepare our troops for combat and peacetime mission."

PAN Monitor/mud


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