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US Senate passes 108.9 bln dollar war-funds bill

By Staff
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WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) The U.S. Senate today passed a bill to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and hurricane recovery efforts, ignoring a renewed threat from President George W. Bush to veto the bill because it includes money for expensive projects he did not request.

By a vote of 78-20, the Senate approved an emergency bill that would spend 108.9 billion dollars this year, 14.4 billion dollars more than Bush sought. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, backed Bush by voting against the measure.

The House of Representatives passed a bill more in line with Bush's request and the two chambers will have to work out their differences.

The emergency bill would provide a new injection of billion that the Pentagon says it needs by early summer to help replenish combat equipment and recruit more soldiers for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The next largest chunk of money, 28.9 billion dollars, would be used for rebuilding Louisiana, Mississippi and other southern states after last summer's devastating Hurricane Katrina and other storms.

Bush has objected to some of the storm-relief projects the Senate has included, as well as about 4 billion dollars in farm aid.

''The president has made it very clear he would veto legislation that goes above and beyond what he called for,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said after the Senate vote.

He predicted a veto would be upheld and cited a letter from 35 senators backing Bush's demand to put a limit on the bill's cost.

REUTERS PM PC2255

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