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Congress Approves $106 Bln for War, Swine Flu

WASHINGTON - Congress on Tuesday gave final approval to a 106 billion dollar emergency bill to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, shore up efforts to fight swine flu, and fund US participation in the IMF.

US soldiers salute during a ceremony at Bagram air base near Kabul on June 3. Lawmakers in Congress have passed a 106 billion dollar emergency bill to finance the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, shore up efforts to fight swine flu, and fund US participation in the IMF. (AFP/File/Shah Marai) By a vote of 226 to 202, lawmakers in the US House of Representatives approved a compromise version of legislation, to reconcile differing House and Senate versions.

Among other budget items, the measure provides 79.9 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 7.7 billion dollars to combat the A(H1N1) flu virus, and eight billion dollars for the International Monetary Fund.

House Democrat David Obey, a key figure during negotiations on the spending measure talks in that chamber, acknowledged some resistance among lawmakers to the IMF funding, but said the monies were necessary to bolster a still-sagging global economy.

"You know, this is a tough reality. We have to participate in the world, and when the world economy becomes shaky, we have a responsibility to ourselves to try to stabilize that world economic situation," he said.

The supplemental spending measure was bogged down after the Senate legislation -- over the objections of Democrats in the House -- banned public release of the controversial images allegedly showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of US military personnel.

President Barack Obama broke the logjam last week, however, offering in a letter to negotiators, to "continue to take every legal and administrative remedy available to me to ensure the ... detainee photographs are not released."

The compromise bill also includes provisions on prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, but does not include the 80 million dollars originally requested by the Obama administration to close the detention facility at the US naval base in southern Cuba, where some 230 detainees remain.

Under the agreement reached by the Senate and the House, a Democratic source said the government could transfer some prisoners to US soil only to face trial, although the highly sensitive issue of where they would serve out their sentence remains unresolved.

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