The Senate has passed an $87.5-billion spending bill to fund military operations and reconstruction in Iraq. The voice vote on Nov. 3 follows the House's approval on Oct. 30. The measure now goes to President Bush, who has said he will sign it.
The spending package gives the White House most, but not all, of what it sought. Lawmakers scaled back President Bushs $20.3-billion Iraq relief and reconstruction request to $18.6 billion, deleting the most controversial provisions, including creating a Zip Code system and building two prisons. GOP leaders also knocked out a Senate-backed provision that would have required half of the reconstruction money to be repaid by Iraq. All of the funds now will be considered grants.
Infrastructure work accounts for about $13.1 billion of the $18.6 billion reconstruction title. Key elements include:
- Electricity: $5.5 billion
- Water resources and sanitation: $4.3 billion
- Oil infrastructure: $1.2 billion
- Jails, facilities protection, mine removal: $759
- Hospitals, health clinics: $493 million
- Aviation, rail, telecommunications: $425 million
- Roads, bridges, public buildings: $370 million
The measure mandates competitive bidding on reconstruction contracts unless circumstances warrant sole-source contract awards.
|Stevens pushed for new IG to monitor |
The legislation also creates an inspector general position for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led governing body in Iraq headed by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer. The bill requires the IG and Bremer to track the funds allocated for Iraqi reconstruction, issuing quarterly reports. "This position ensures that we will always have a clear record of who is responsible for the funds appropriated to the CPA and how they are spent," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
In a statement Bush said, "The strong bipartisan show of support for this bill underscores that America and the world are united to prevail in the central front in the war on terror by helping build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq."
(Photo courtesy of office of Sen. Ted Stevens)