$97B war-spending bill approved by the House

The House on Thursday approved a $96.7 billion war-funding measure over the objections of dozens of Democrats who are exasperated with the Iraq war and growing impatient with the conflict in Afghanistan.

It is the first war-funding bill approved since President Obama was sworn in, and the relative ease with which it passed contrasts sharply with when Democratic leaders and President Bush clashed in 2007 on funding the wars.

 The spending passed 368-60 but was rejected by eight committee chairmen and 43 other Democrats. Nine Republicans voted against the bill, whose price tag exceeded Obama’s request by nearly $12 billion.

Even though the House bill mirrored many of the policies Obama sought, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) did not include money for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba. Obey is among many Democrats and Republicans who want more details on Obama’s plan to close the facility at Guantánamo.

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“It’s not about closing Guantánamo Bay or not. Guantánamo Bay, whether you like it or not, is going to be closed. What we’re talking about is, How do you dispose of and what do you do to the detainees?” Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfAfrica's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump MORE (R-Va.) said during the debate on the House floor.

Some Democrats were nervous that the rule bringing the bill to the floor would not pass as anti-war lawmakers threatened to reject it. But the procedural motion passed 247-178, with only eight Democrats crossing party lines.

Obey this month suggested Obama has one year to make substantial progress in the war in Afghanistan, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has refused to put any troop-withdrawal timetables on that war.

In a move that pleased most Democrats, Obama earlier this year announced U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq by the middle of next year.

Still, Iraq war critics are worried that the Pentagon does not have a viable long-term strategy in Afghanistan, where

U.S. troops have been stationed since 2001.

During his presidential campaign last year, Obama vowed to capture or kill Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“Bin Laden and al Qaeda are our No. 1 threat when it comes to American security,” Obama told reporters in 2008.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that they cannot create safe havens that can attack Americans.”

Many military experts believe that bin Laden is hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a release after the vote, Pelosi said, “History will look back at the Iraq war as a tragic miscalculation that cost America far too many lives, far too much money, and distracted us from the real fight against terrorism for far too long.

Today, the House begins to close this sad chapter in our history, to end the war in Iraq and to refocus on the real fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.”

Obey voted for his bill but acknowledged his reservations: “This is a no-win bill no matter how you vote on it.”

Other than war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, the House bill seeks emergency funding for the pandemic flu, the U.S. Capitol Police, combating wildfires and nuclear non-proliferation initiatives.
Chairmen who rejected the bill were: Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.),

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The nine Republicans who voted no were Reps. John Campbell (Calif.), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), Vernon Ehlers (Mich.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Ron Paul (Texas), Tom PetriThomas (Tom) Evert PetriKeep our elections free and fair Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Combine healthcare and tax reform to bring out the best in both MORE (Wis.), James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.) and Ed Royce (Calif.).

The Senate has yet to clear its war supplemental bill, but is expected to do so next week. A $91.3 billion supplemental funding measure was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, but GOP amendments on Guantánamo are expected to be offered on the floor next week

J. Taylor Rushing contributed to this article.