House and Senate appropriators reached agreement May 3 on an $82-billion emergency supplemental spending package that focuses mainly on funding U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also includes $592 million to build a new U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad.
The measure now goes to the House, which is expected to vote on it May 5, says Appropriations Committee spokesman John Scofield. Then it would move to the Senate, which returns from a one-week recess May 9.
Of the bill's $82-billion total, $75.9 billion will go to the Dept. of Defense, chiefly for operations and equipment to continue the military effort in Iraq. But that part of the bill also has $1.2 billion for military construction, of which $547 million would go for projects in Iraq.
Some other DOD construction projects funded in the bill are at U.S. bases, including: $69 million for barracks and site preparation and utility work at Fort Bliss in Texas; $47 million for barracks and site work at Fort Riley, Kansas; $42 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar, plus site and utility work at Fort Wainwright in Alaska; and $37 million for an aircraft hangar and site preparation at Fort Drum in New York.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said that the legislation "provides the resources needed by our military forces to protect our country and win the war against terror."
The funds for the Baghdad embassy project survived the conference after withstanding a couple of threats. The House version of the spending bill included language barring spending for the complex and a Senate floor amendment to cut the embassy's allocation to $106 million was defeated. Nevertheless, the $592 million that remains is a cut of 10% from the sum the Bush administration requested for the project.
The measure also provides $656 million in relief funding for last December's tsunami in Asia.