US House approves USD 370 billion defence spending bill
Press Trust of India
Washington, July 9
The US House overwhelmingly approved a $368.7 billion defence spending bill that lawmakers said would support the US military's goal of developing a more mobile, high-tech fighting force while preserving older weapons systems heavily used in the Iraq war.
The bill for fiscal year 2004 represents an increase of about 1.3 percent over the amount approved for this fiscal year - not taking into account a USD 62.4 billion midyear spending bill that paid for the war in Iraq.
The bill doesn't include the costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which probably will be financed by another spending bill.
The bill was approved 399-19.
The House bill, as well as a similar bill approved yesterday by a Senate subcommittee, are about USD3 billion below President George W. Bush's request.
The House bill "reflects very much the direction of the commander in chief as well as the Department of defence regarding the war on terrorism that we are pursuing in the Middle East at this point but also recognising its great threat around the world, said Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, who heads a House Appropriations defence subcommittee.
Those priorities include defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's desire to transform the US military into a sophisticated, lighter force able to mobilise quickly in response to crises around the world.