ROUNDUP: Bush gets his way on Iraq war funding    2007-12-19 17:32:53    

Bowing to President George W Bush, Congress on Wednesday gave up on a US troop withdrawal and approved 70 billion dollars in war spending on Iraq and Afghanistan for 2008.
Washington (dpa) - Bowing to President George W Bush, Congress on Wednesday gave up on a US troop withdrawal and approved 70 billion dollars in war spending on Iraq and Afghanistan for 2008.

The 272-142 vote in the House of Representatives marked the end of a year that often saw Democratic lawmakers frustrated by Bush's veto power and their slim majority in both chambers.

War funding was inserted into a huge 555-billion-dollar government spending bill, which Bush has indicated he will sign because it sets no timetable for ending the war in Iraq. Final passage in the House followed Senate approval on Tuesday.

With the Christmas holidays looming, lawmakers faced calendar pressure to end months of sparring with Bush over a budget that became a proxy for the nation's divisions over the Iraq war.

A few Democrats spoke out on the House floor before the vote, calling the Iraq funding "another payment on a war that should not have been fought" and a blank cheque to continue "the worst foreign policy fiasco in US history."

Democrats tried repeatedly in 2007 to legislate an end to the war in Iraq, including this week. But Bush vetoed earlier attempts, and the Democrats failed to win over enough of his Republicans for a two- thirds majority that could override the veto.

Polls show most Americans oppose the US war in Iraq. Yet with a presidential election due in November 2008, many Democrats also want to be seen as supporting the roughly 160,000 US soldiers in Iraq.

The opposition party took control of Congress in January with an ambitious agenda of expanding social programmes and ending the Iraq war, claiming a mandate for change from voters. But with Bush retaining broad executive power, Democrats' record of success has been mixed.

In one setback, they were stymied in trying to expand state-funded health insurance for poor children. On Wednesday, the House simply extended the programme for 15 months and left the Democrats vowing to fight for its expansion again next year.

But a temporary fix to protect 23 million middle-class families from an income tax hike in 2008 passed Congress as lawmakers wound up business for the year.


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