Legislation passed by the US Senate to pay for aid and other State Department operations abroad would restrict the sale or transfer of cluster bombs, lethal munitions that spread death over wide areas and often kill civilians.
A cluster bomb is designed to break up in the air and disperse 200 to 400 bomblets over an area 457 meters across. The weapon is meant to disrupt large-scale troop formations, but cluster bombs have been used increasingly in civilian areas in military confrontations across the world.
As passed by the Senate Thursday night, the $34 billion bill would forbid transfer or sale of any cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1 percent. The idea is to reduce the incidence of unexpected explosions of munitions that had not gone off when used.
The bill also provides military aid to familiar allies in the Middle East. Israel would receive $2.4 billion, while Egypt receives $1.3 billion. Afghanistan would receive about $1.1 billion for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction aid.