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House approves $87 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan

From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On a 298-to-121 vote, the House early Friday approved the $87 billion Iraq and Afghanistan spending bill, clearing the way for final Senate approval and a presidential signature in the coming days.

The vote came after senators reversed course midweek and stripped from the bill a controversial provision requiring that half the $18.4 billion for Iraq reconstruction projects be paid back to the United States. The White House fought hard to keep the money as a grant, arguing the Iraqi people could not afford to take on new debt while their country is in such a fragile state.

Most of the remaining funds will support the U.S. military's activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, although $500 million was added late Wednesday to help victims of the California wildfires.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said the Senate will take up the measure Friday or Monday. With few lawmakers willing to vote against funds to support an ongoing military action, easy passage is expected in both chambers.

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