WASHINGTON -- The House, putting aside questions about the mission in Iraq, gave strong endorsement early today to a $87.5 billion package to sustain US military forces and rebuild the shattered nations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Congress stood with the president and our soldiers tonight, sending them the support they need to defend our nation and all those working to advance freedom abroad," said Representative Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri.
The package, approved 298 to 121 shortly after midnight, includes nearly $65 billion for military personnel and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $18.6 billion more for reconstruction efforts in Iraq. The Senate is expected to follow suit quickly, sending President Bush a package that closely mirrors his original request.
House and Senate negotiators worked out the final details of the package Wednesday night, eliminating a Senate provision that would have required that half of the money for Iraqi reconstruction and security forces be given as loans instead of grants.
Democrats used the debate to criticize the scope of the package and the lack of congressional controls over how it will be spent.
"We are going to be held accountable for this vote for a long time," said Representative David Obey of Wisconsin.