Bush to sign Iraqi spending bill

President Bush is scheduled to sign into law today the $87.5 billion War Supplemental Conference Report that includes almost $2 billion in information technology projects to help wage the war on terrorism.

The Senate earlier this week approved the spending request by a voice vote. The House of Representatives voted 298 to 121 in favor of it last week.

As part of the package, Congress approved IT spending that included $541.9 million for procurement and $338.8 million for research and development. The Air Force received the largest IT procurement, $239.3 million, including $150.3 million for communications systems in the Central Command region.

Defense Departmentwide programs netted $170.5 million to include $45.4 million for communications and computer security improvements. The Army garnered $121.8 million, including $42.2 million for command and control equipment. The Navy would get $10.3 million for command and control and Global Broadcast System satellite terminal updates.

President Bush last month submitted to Congress the $87 billion spending request to sustain operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and worldwide. House and Senate conferees last week added $500 million to aid California's wildfire victims.

The House War Supplemental Conference Report included a $335 million cut to Iraqi transportation and telecommunications improvements recommended by the House Appropriations Committee. President Bush requested $835 million, but conferees approved $500 million.

The report earmarked $64.7 billion for national defense, $18.6 billion for Iraq, $1.2 billon for Afghanistan, $580 million for Commerce, Justice and State department programs, and $500 for federal disaster assistance. The administration asked for $65.1 billion for defense, $20.3 billion for Iraq, $800 million for Afghanistan and $187 million for the department's three programs.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., voiced the lone "no" vote in the Senate.

"The conference report before the Senate today is a flawed agreement that was produced by political imperative, not by reasoned policy considerations," said Byrd, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, debating the report Nov. 3 on the Senate floor. "This is not a good bill for our troops in Iraq. This is not a good bill for American taxpayers. This is not good policy for the United States."

The bill is not good for troops in Iraq because it does not internationalize the Iraqi occupation and not good for taxpayers and policy because it lacks a clear mission and exit strategy, Byrd said.

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