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OI Technical Staff : 9/27/2008 9:59:59 PM

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Tab Gilles : 9/27/2008 7:20:20 PM

$700B for the "BailOut" bill....don't look now, but $612B just sneaked by!

Senate sends $612 billion defense bill to Bush Link

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Troops would get a pay raise in a defense bill that Congress sent President Bush on Saturday. Even before passage, lawmakers had backed away from an election-season showdown with the administration over Iraq.

Legislation approved by a voice vote in the Senate would increase pay by 3.9 percent, extend bonuses and provide money for family housing, tuition assistance and other programs.

The bill, which maps $612 billion in defense spending next year, shows how lawmakers would rather go home and campaign than wage a prolonged battle in Washington with Bush over Iraq policy.

In the end, House-Senate bargainers dropped several provisions he opposed. Eliminated was language barring private interrogators from U.S. military detention facilities and giving Congress a chance to block a security pact with Iraq.

The legislation also lacks a call for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq ? something Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama long has called for and Republican nominee John McCain has opposed.

The bill envisions nearly $70 billion for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and requires more information on contractors with projects in Iraq. It also paves the way for Bush's plan to build an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, a proposal strongly opposed by Russia.

The House approved the bill overwhelmingly on Wednesday. Bush is expected to sign the measure.

The measure is S. 3001 as amended.

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