House of Representatives approves $70 billion more for Iraq, Afghanistan wars

Congress approved $70 billion Wednesday for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bitter finish for majority Democrats who tried to force a change in President George W. Bush's war policy. The House of Representatives' 272-142 vote also sent the president a $555 billion catchall spending bill that combines the war money with money for 14 Cabinet departments. Bush and his Senate Republican allies forced the Iraq money upon anti-war Democrats as the price for letting the year-end budget deal pass and be signed. Other Democrats were eager to avoid being seen as not supporting troops who are in harm's way, which likewise would avoid weeks of bashing by Bush for failing to provide the money. "This is a blank check," complained Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern. "The new money in this bill represents one cave-in too many. It is an endorsement of George Bush's policy of endless war." McGovern is a leading dove among the Democrats, who took majorities away from Republicans in both chambers of Congress last year by promising to end the war.